Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
By Isaac Esipisu
Several African leaders watching news of the death of Africa ’s longest serving leader are wondering who among them is next and how they will leave office.
Three of the ten longest serving leaders have fallen this year – Ben Ali of Tunisia ruled for 23 years, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt ruled for 30 years and the longest, the Brother Leader of Libya ruled for 42 years – all gone in the last six months.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea (32), Jose Santos of Angola (32), Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (31), Paul Biya of Cameroon (29) and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda (25), King Mswati III of Swaziland (24), Blaise Campore of Burkina Fasso (24) and still going strong, and must be wondering whose turn is next.
Teodoro and Jose Santos take the number one spot as the longest serving Presidents with 32 years of ruling Equatorial Guinea and Angola respectively and from what has happened in Africa this year and to Gaddafi this week, it is a post neither of them would be proud off right now.
Ugandans love to talk. And, unlike in some other African countries, few people are afraid to be heard talking politics. Cafes and bars in Kampala and elsewhere hum to the sound of politicians being loudly verbally skewered.
The politicos themselves are not much different. Rhetoric is being ratcheted up ahead of elections on February 18. And the opposition are not holding back.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been stealing the show at African Union summits for years now. With theatrical – sometimes bizarre – entrances, rambling, grandiose speeches and his well-known penchant for dressing up, Gaddafi has gobbled up media coverage and bemused his fellow leaders.
But he probably wasn’t expecting what happened yesterday when he introduced two traditional African “kings” to speak to the assembled African leaders. Peals of laughter started to ring around the room. It began when he made the announcement and it continued as they spoke. It seems that some African delegates have begun to consider the continent’s longest serving leader ridiculous. And aren’t afraid to show it.
U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 10 day trip to Africa ends this week with many commentators viewing it at least partly as being aimed at offsetting China’s growing economic clout on the African continent.
In public, Clinton has delivered Washington’s traditional messages on the importance of fair elections and of fighting corruption and human rights abuses.
But the fact that top oil producers Angola and Nigeria are both on the tour has made clear the importance of the visit from the perspective of ensuring access to resources – an area of huge importance to China too.
Africa is rich in natural resources like oil, gold, diamonds, platinum and yet millions of African people live in abject poverty. The global economic and climate crisis have made life even harder.
At the recent G8 meeting in Italy, African leaders and members of civil society voiced concerns over the promises made in previous G8 meetings of aid and assistance that have yet to materialise.