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.
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.
Last year Mauritania’s first democratically elected president, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, was ousted in a coup led by General Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz.
Next week, the country goes to the polls to elect a president but opposition parties say the elections won’t be fair and are asking people to stay away.
Though a few opposition candidates are still in the race, analysts say there is no real threat to Abdel Aziz and expect him and his Union for the Republic party to win. Meanwhile the opposition coalition holds regular protests.
Despite the extremely tight security at this week’s African Union summit in Ethiopia, one brief lapse gave some journalists covering the meeting a very rare glimpse behind the scenes.
Reporters at the annual meeting in Addis Ababa are normally kept well away from the heads of state, except for the occasional carefully managed press conference, or a brief word thrown in our direction as they sweep past in the middle of a phalanx of sharp-elbowed, scowling bodyguards.