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World’s oldest leaders – The East African


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After the death of Tunisia’s 92-year-old President Beji Caid Essebsi on Thursday, there remain three world leaders aged over 90 along with several in their eighties.

The oldest elected world leader in power is Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is 94. Born on July 10, 1925, he led Malaysia’s government between 1981 and 2003, returning to power in May 2018.

With 67 years on the throne, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II — born April 21, 1926 — holds the record for the longest period in power. Now 93, she became queen in 1952 at age 25 after the death of her father, George VI.

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, 90, became the emir of Kuwait in January 2006. He was de facto leader of the oil-rich emirate for several years before due to his predecessor’s ill-health.

In Cameroon, President Paul Biya, 86, has been in power since 1982. Nicknamed the “Sphinx”, he was re-elected in 2018 for a seventh seven-year mandate.

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, 81, became the country’s first freely elected president in 2010 and was re-elected five years later. He has repeatedly questioned the relevance of presidential term limits, raising the possibility of running again in 2020.

In southern Africa’s kingdom of Lesotho, Thomas Thabane, 80, has been prime minister since 2017.

Malawi’s Peter Mutharika, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, was re-elected as president in May, provoking months of protests.

In Saudi Arabia, King Salman, 83, took over the reins of power in January 2015, after the death of his half-brother Abdullah. He has gradually handed over responsibilities to his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 33, who became crown prince in June 2017.

Norwegian King Harald V, 82, came to the throne in 1991.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 80, became the regime’s top authority in 1989, taking over from its founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In Lebanon, former army general Michel Aoun, 84, was elected president in 2016 for a single-term mandate of six years.

Pope Francis, 82, is the Vatican’s head of state, becoming the first Jesuit and Latin American pontiff in 2013.

In Laos, President Boungnang Vorachit, 81, has been ruler of his small communist country since 2016.