Africa's longest-serving leaders
December 07 - Gabon President Omar Bongo, Africa's longest serving leader, marked 40 years in power on December 02.
Here is a short factbox on the longest serving leaders in the African Union.
Angola - Eduardo Dos Santos, 65
Dos Santos assumed the presidency of the mineral-rich country in 1979, four years into a civil war with Unita rebels that finally ended in 2002.
Cameroon - President Paul Biya, 74
Biya took over in 1982 from President Ahmadou Ahidjo and won re-election for another seven-year term in October 2004.
Congo Republic - President Denis Sassou Nguesso, 64
Sassou Nguesso seized power in a 1979 coup, but then lost the country's first multi-party elections in 1992 to scientist Pascal Lissouba. He regained the presidency in 1997 after a brief, but bloody civil war and was re-elected in 2004 for a further seven-year term.
Egypt - Hosni Mubarak, 79
Mubarak became president of the Arab world's most populous country after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat by Muslim militants angered by his foreign policy and domestic repression. Mubarak was sworn in as president in September 2005 for a fifth six-year term.
Gabon - President Omar Bongo, 71
Bongo came to power in November 1967. The veteran leader had changed the constitution to remove any limits on presidential terms. Bongo, who had ruled the oil producing country since 1967, won 79.2% of the vote in November 2005 elections, comfortably ahead of his four challengers.
Guinea - President Lansana Conte, 73
Victory in polls in December 2003 cleared the way for him to rule until 2010, but as a diabetic chain smoker his health had repeatedly given cause for concern.
Libya - Muammar Gaddafi, 65
Gaddafi seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1969 and oversaw the rapid development of his poverty-stricken country. Previously known for little more than oil wells and deserts and regarded as an international outcast by the West, Libya pledged to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programmes, drawing praise from Washington and London.
Swaziland - King Makhosetive Mswati III, 39
Mswati was sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch and was crowned in April 1987. Political parties had been banned in landlocked Swaziland since 1973. The king introduced a new constitution in 2006, but the ban on political parties remained and the king had kept control over the legislature in a country, plagued by food shortages and one of the world's highest HIV/Aids prevalence rates.
Tunisia - President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, 71
Ben Ali had overseen successful economic reforms and crushed an Islamic fundamentalist opposition since he came to power 20 years ago in 1987. Supporters of Ben Ali had predicted he would seek another mandate when his latest term ends in 2009. Commentators said he could take credit for making Tunisia the healthiest and best educated nation in north Africa.
Uganda - President Yoweri Museveni, 63
Museveni declared himself president in January 1986 when he seized Kampala after a five-year guerrilla struggle. Museveni banned multi-party politics shortly afterwards. Uganda had tidied up its capital, Kampala, for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. For Museveni, the visit by the 53 leaders was a chance to sell Uganda, a country long associated with eccentric tyrants and civil war, as a place to invest.
Zimbabwe - President Robert Mugabe, 83
Mugabe became Zimbabwe's prime minister in 1980 after independence elections, when he was hailed as a model African democrat. The former Marxist guerrilla had held fast to power despite a deep political and financial crisis that threatened to ruin the country he fought so hard to free. Zimbabwe's inflation rate accelerated to a new record high of 7 982.1% year on year last September.