PARIS – Vladimir Putin has held power for 20 years but he is still well behind the record terms of Cuba’s late Fidel Castro and North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung.
He is also far from achieving the lengthy stints of many living leaders, with Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema the longest-serving president at 40 years.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch at 67 years.
Putin first came to power as prime minister of Russia in 1999 and was elected president the following year.
In 2008, after two presidential terms, he handed the role to Dmitry Medvedev and stepped back to become prime minister again. This allowed him to return to the Kremlin in 2012. He triumphed once again at the polls in 2018 to grab his fourth term as president.
To mark his 20 years in office, here are other world leaders who have managed to stay at the top for more than two decades.
Castro tops the list
Leading the pack is Cuba’s revolutionary hero Fidel Castro, with 49 years in power. When he handed over power in 2008, ill and in his early 80s, it was to his brother Raul.
Taiwan’s first president, Chiang Kai-shek was in charge on the island and in mainland China for a total of 47 years until his death in 1975.
North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung ran the reclusive state for 46 years before dying in office in 1994, remaining revered as the “eternal leader.”
Moammar Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for almost 42 years but was ousted and then slaughtered in 2011 at the height of the Arab Spring uprisings.
Omar Bongo Ondimba governed oil-rich Gabon for more than 41 years until his death from cancer in 2009.
Albania’s communist dictator Enver Hoxha was in power for 40 years until he died in 1985.
- Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang, who seized power in a 1979 coup, became the world’s longest-serving living leader on Aug. 3.
- Monarchs aside, others still accruing time in the top job are:
- Cameroon’s President Paul Biya who has already ruled for 37 years.
- Congo-Brazzaville’s Denis Sassou Nguesso now at 35 years, excluding a five-year pause after he lost a 1992 election.
- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, 34 years.
- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, 33 years.
- Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989.
- Chad’s Idriss Deby Itno, 28 years.
- Tajikistan’s Emomali Rakhmon, 27 years.
- Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki, 26 years.
- Belarussian Alexander Lukashenko, 25 years.
- Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh, 20 years.
- Gabon’s Ali Bongo will have been in power for 20 years in October 2019.