Another coup has struck in Africa. This time, it is Gabon where a group of army officers announced they had put an end to the combined 56-year reign of both Omar Bongo and his son, Ali, in the Central African country.
According to the putschists, they were annulling the results of Saturday’s election in which President Ali Bongo got an extension to his 14-year reign.
If successful, it will be the 10th coup de tat on the continent with the most recent being Niger Republic.
One reason many analysts have given for the now-frequent coups on the continent is the perpetuity of some African leaders in power. In number terms, there are seven African Presidents who have been in power for over 20 years.
In this, piece, PUNCH takes a look at these longest-serving presidents on the continent.
1. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (44 years)
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea has been in power since 1979, making him the longest-serving African president. In the early years of his rule, President Obiang was known for being a brutal dictator. He oversaw a government responsible for the torture and killings of political opponents.
In the past few years, President Obiang has come under fire from human rights groups for his continued repression of the people of Equatorial Guinea.
2. Paul Biya (42 years)
Cameroon’s Paul Biya reign is not ending anytime soon.
President Biya, who came to power in a coup d’etat in 1982, has ruled the country ever since. In the early years of his rule, he was known for being a repressive leader.
In the 1990s, he loosened his grip on the country and allowed multiparty elections. However, he has remained in power ever since.
President Biya has had his fair share of trouble with human rights groups for his continued repression of the people of Cameroon.
READ ALSO: Coup: Why We Took Over Power — Gabon Army
3. Denis Sassou (36 years)
Denis Sassou has been the president of the Republic of the Congo for 36 years. He first came to power in 1979 and has since been re-elected three times. Sassou is currently among the oldest heads of state in Africa, at 80.
His over three decades in power have attracted criticism and allegations, from corruption to poor governance and human rights violations. However, to him, that has never been any reason enough to call it quits.
4. King Mswati III (36-year rule)
Eswatini, Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy, has been ruled by King Mswati III for 36 years. He ascended to the throne in April 1986 aged just 18
5. Yoweri Museveni (35 years)
Yoweri Museveni has been the president of Uganda for 35 years. He first came to power in 1986 and has since been re-elected three times. Museveni is the third oldest head of state in Africa, at 79.
Critics say Museveni has become increasingly authoritarian over the years, stifling dissent and curtailing civil liberties.
In recent years, there have been calls for term limits in Uganda, but Museveni has resisted these efforts. In 2017, he amended the constitution to remove the president’s age limit, effectively allowing him to stay in power for life.
6. Isaias Afwerki (30 years)
Isaias Afwerki has been the president of Eritrea for 30 years. He first came to power in 1993 after leading the country’s independence movement from Ethiopia. Afwerki has since been re-elected twice.
Eritrea is also one of the world’s most militarised countries, with all able-bodied citizens required to serve in the military. This has led to a mass exodus of Eritreans, with many fleeing the country for safety and opportunity elsewhere.
7. Paul Kagame (23 years)
Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame is standing for re-election in 2024. He has been in power since 2000.
In 2015 the constitution was changed, allowing him to stay until 2034.
In the last presidential election six years ago, official figures showed he won 99% of the vote, which many outside the country dismissed as a sham.
Asked if he would seek re-election, Kagame said: “I will consider running for another 20 years. I have no problem with that. Elections are about people choosing.”
Army Put On Standby As UK Police Hand In Weapons
The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence is offering soldiers to support armed police in London after dozens of police officers stood down from firearms duties, BBC reports.
More than 100 officers have turned in permits allowing them to carry weapons, a source told the BBC, in support of a fellow officer who has been charged with murder over the fatal shooting of a young Black man, Chris Kaba.
The officer, named only as NX121, who appeared in court last week, has been charged over the death of Chris Kaba in September 2022.
Kaba died hours after he was struck by a single gunshot fired into the vehicle he was driving in the Streatham area of South London.
It later emerged that the Audi Mr Kaba was driving, which did not belong to him, had been linked by police to a gun incident the day before.
His death prompted a number of protests and renewed allegations of racism within the force.
The Ministry of Defence said it received a request, known as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities, from the Home Office to “provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed”.
A MACA is offered to the police or the NHS in emergency situations. The military helped medical staff in the Covid pandemic and covered for striking border staff and paramedics last year.
The Met said it was a “contingency option” that would only be used “in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available”.
Military staff would not be used “in a routine policing capacity”, it added.
On Saturday, the Met said its own officers still make up the vast majority of armed police in the capital but they were being supported by a limited number of firearms officers from neighbouring forces.
Announcing the review, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the public “depend on our brave firearms officers to protect us”.
“In the interest of public safety they have to make split-second decisions under extraordinary pressures.”
She said that officers have her “full backing”.
“I will do everything in my power to support them,” she added.
In his letter to the home secretary, the Met Police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said that a system where officers are investigated for “safely pursuing suspects” should not have been allowed to develop.
Sir Mark said he would “make no comment” on any ongoing legal matters, but “the issues raised in this letter go back further”.
He said firearms officers are concerned that they will face years of legal proceedings, “even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given”.
“Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour,” he wrote.
But in instances where officers act improperly, Sir Mark said the system “needs to move swiftly” rather than “tying itself in knots pursuing good officers through multiple legal processes”.
Man Charged With Beating His Three Children To Death
Police in Thailand have charged a man with beating to death his two-year-old daughter and his two infant sons, BBC reports.
The police suspect Songsak Songsaeng also killed two other infant sons from a previous marriage.
The charges follow the discovery last week of the body of a two-year-old girl buried beneath a kitchen floor.
Police say Songsak claims to have a history of mental illness, and that he killed his children because he couldn’t tolerate the sound of their crying.
His wife has also been charged over the death of their two-year-old daughter. And his ex-wife has been charged over the deaths of the two boys. All three have been arrested. Songsak has been married four times.
Police were first alerted to a possible case of domestic violence at the Bang Khen district in Bangkok earlier this month.
Songsak’s neighbours reported that his two daughters, aged 12 and four, were being physically abused. Police rescued the two daughters while they were home without their parents.
The 12-year-old told police that their parents had beaten her two-year-old sister, which led to her death. She also helped police trace the body to where it was buried under a kitchen floor in north-west Thailand last week.
Thai police have also charged Songsak with the killing of two other sons he had with his third wife after his DNA matched with that of two infants, whose bodies were unearthed 10 years ago.
His third wife had said he killed their four infant sons and gave police locations where two were buried.
Police believe the two others may have been buried under an area where a petrol station now stands.
JUST IN: Russia Adds ICC President, Hofmanski, To Wanted List
The Russian Government, on Monday, said it had placed the President of the International Criminal Court, which is seeking the arrest of President Vladimir Putin, on its wanted list.
“Hofmanski Piotr Jozef, Polish. Wanted under an article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation,” Russian news agencies reported, citing the Interior Ministry.
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