, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, announced that he would step down yesterday
, which will mark the official end of his term after nearly 20 years of ruling the country. The aging president, who has not made a public address since 2013, declared his reelection bid last month, which was met with mass protests in the streets. Bouteflika is paralyzed and 82 years old.
When Bouteflika was in power his two-decade tenure put him in the mix with some of the longest-serving world leaders. President Mbasogo is currently the longest-serving world leader, ruling Equatorial Guinea for almost four decades. President Biya, who controls Cameroon
, comes in a close second with 36 years in power.
The long tenure of some leaders comes from a combination of reasons. While military coups
were a common way of securing power between 1970 and 1982, those leaders have swapped military intervention for gradual, constitutional change. During that 12-year time frame, there were 27 successful coups, while between 2000 and 2012 there was only 12. Leaders now are consolidating their power in office by holding constitutional coups, a process where the person or party in power furthers their power by changing the constitution. Since 2000, 17 heads of state have tried to advance their power by modifying their countries’ constitutions.