In many places, the amount of terms that a leader can serve their country for is limited. However, this is not the case everywhere. This practice can be attributed to several factors such as lack of term limits and civil wars. However, sometimes it is open refusal to hand over power. Presidents go as far as changing the constitution to fulfil their greed for power. It is due to such selfishness and greed that Mohamed Ibrahim, a wealthy Sudanese, pledged a reward of $5 million every year for any African long serving president who would give up their seat in the interest of promoting democracy. Since 2007 only four presidents have heeded the call and won the prize.
Presidents Who Have Served For Over 30 Years
Paul Biya has been serving as the president of Cameroon for 41 years. He is currently aged 84 and has made history for being the longest serving president in the world. It is alleged that he still holds power due to fraud and irregularities that occur during elections.
Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Zimbabwe
Following closely in his footsteps are the presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and Zimbabwe who have ruled for 37 years. Teodoro Nguema became president of Equatorial Guinea in 1979 after organizing a coup against his uncle. Since then he has always won elections by over 90% of the total votes. However, the credibility of those elections has always been challenged by human rights groups and the opposition. President Nguema most recently elected his son Teodorin Obiang as the vice president.
Jose dos Santos was elected president after the death of Angola’s first president called Agostinho Nesto. He has been accused of amassing wealth for himself and suppressing the opposition during his rule. The other president who has been president for 37 years is Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He has stuck to his seat of power in spite of him being in his 90s. It is also quite unfortunate that in the many years of his presidency, the economy of Zimbabwe has dwindled until it has become one of the worst in the world. Other presidents who have ruled for over 30 years include Ali Khamenei of Iran who has reigned for 35 years. Nursultan Nazarbayev has been the president of Kazakhstan for 33 years. Then Hun Sen has been Cambodia’s president for 32 years.
Effects On The Country
Most of the presidents who have served for very long are dictators. They do not support democracy and it is common to hear that efforts by the opposition to have a new ruler are often thwarted. Another effect of such long presidencies is corruption and lack of development. Countries such as Angola exhibit high rates of corruption and Zimbabwe has the worst economy in Africa. These nations rarely uphold the rule of law and do not practise Human Rights as advanced by the United Nations.
Resolving The Challenges
The first action that needs to be taken is to ensure that every nation has a term limit for the presidents. This should be outlined in their constitutions. Secondly, there’s need for multi-partism and strong oppositions to perform checks and balances on the government. Thirdly, there is a need for the international community to put sanctions on such governments so that the presidents step down. It is also the prerogative of the citizens to vote in the leaders that they want. They should not heed to any threats that they are given by the existing governments.