History

Who Are The Longest Reigning Dictators?

The criteria for being a dictator is specific, but the ones that do exist are mostly in Africa. So, who are the longest reigning dictators?

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Recently, a Libyan court sentenced Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the country's former deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi, to death over war crimes committed during the 2011 revolution. The Gaddafi regime appears to be over and the country remains in turmoil. Still, there are many countries around the world with long-running dictatorships, many of which are in Africa.

Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon, is widely regarded as the longest ruling dictator still in power. He's been in power for 40 years, firming holding onto his office through rigged elections, the elimination of term limits, and severe censorship laws. Reports of police torture are common in Cameroon as well.

Equatorial Guinea is another country long-controlled by dictators, currently under President Obiang, who ousted his uncle in 1979. Quality of life is deplorable in the country, with half the population lacking access to clean water. Although Equatorial Guinea has vast oil reserves that bring huge amounts of revenue, it still ranks near the bottom of the Human Development Index. Unsurprisingly, media censorship is incredibly strict.

Finally, Angola is still ruled by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has held office since 1979. Dos Santos and his inner circle of family and business associates enjoy vast amounts of wealth, while nearly three quarter's of Angola's populations subsides on less than $2 a day. Reports indicate that Dos Santos is rich due to massive kickbacks from a host of industries, oil notably among them. It's not only difficult, but also quite dangerous to be a journalist in the country, where threats, violence, and imprisonment are quite common.

These are just a few leaders that highlight some of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world today. These countries may be spread around the world, but they all follow the same means of keeping a grip on power through disenfranchisement, intimidation, violence, and extreme inequality.

Learn More:
The World's Worst Dictators (The Huffington Post)
"Since 2003 I have been writing an annual article for Parade magazine, ranking the 10 worst dictators currently in power."

"Torture in Cameroon: an "ordinary" reality, a systematic impunity" (FIDH)
"The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) mandated an international investigation team in Cameroon from 23 August to 1st September 2003."

Extreme City (The New Yorker)
"Earlier this year, I was invited to a barbecue at the home of a Texas oilman, Steve Espinosa, and his wife, Norma."

Current World Dictators (Planet Rulers)
"Here is a comprehensive, up-to-date list of current world dictators and authoritarian regimes."