Looking set to win a fresh seven-year term, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, may grab the all-time record of longest serving ruler for African leaders, living or dead.
After almost 37 years at the helm of the tiny oil-rich nation with an abysmal rights record, the 73-year-old who took over in an August 1979 coup already heads the pack of veteran African leaders.
He has ruled one month more than his nearest rival, Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and is several months ahead of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
Cameroon’s Paul Biya, in office since 1982, is in fourth position and appears likely to seek a new mandate in 2018.
Then come Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, with 32 years at the helm, and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni with 30 — both of whom were re-elected this year.
Born on June 6, 1942, Obiang appears to be healthy and is far younger than his two rivals, Mugabe, who was born in 1924, or Biya, born in 1933.
Stability and security meanwhile have long been high on his list of priorities.
Obiang initially took office in a 1979 coup, ousting his own uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, who was then rapidly dispatched before a firing squad.
He has since acted to preempt any new putsch, regularly claiming to have quashed attempted coups and building a fortress state policed by security personnel in every public nook and cranny.