At 50, new Senegalese President Macky Sall belongs to a new generation of African leaders and will succeed the 85-year-old Abdoulaye Wade, who had been in power since 2000 and had sought a third term. Wade admitted defeat in the election.
Here are details of some of the longest-serving African leaders:
* EQUATORIAL GUINEA - President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (69) 32 YEARS 7 MONTHS
- Obiang came to power in a palace coup in August 1979. A new constitution was adopted to usher in multi-party politics, nominally at least, in 1991. Human Rights Watch reported flaws in the latest presidential polls in 2009, in which Obiang scored 95.4 percent of vote.
- A new constitution approved in November 2011 capped presidential terms to two seven-year mandates. Rights groups however saw the reform as an attempt by Obiang to strengthen his grip on power.
* ANGOLA - President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos (69) 32 YEARS 6 MONTHS
- Dos Santos assumed the presidency of the mineral-rich country in September 1979, four years into a civil war with UNITA rebels that ended in 2002.
- A new constitution approved in 2010 meant that the veteran leader, whose ruling MPLA party is widely expected to win elections in 2012, could theoretically remain in power until 2022.
- Amid speculation about a possible handover to a younger leader, Dos Santos last November signaled his apparent readiness to lead the party in a re-election bid.
- Dos Santos has long been accused by human rights groups of mismanaging Angola’s oil revenues and doing too little to fight poverty. An estimated two-thirds of Angola’s 18 million people live on less than $2 per day.
* ZIMBABWE - President Robert Mugabe (88) 31 YEARS 11 MONTHS
- Mugabe became prime minister in April 1980 after independence elections. The former Marxist guerrilla became president in 1987 and has since become a pariah in the West, blamed for running the economy into the ground and for massive human rights abuses to keep his grip on power.
- Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change were forced into a coalition government after a disputed poll in 2008 which led to mass violence, a flood of refugees into South Africa and a deep economic crisis in the resource-rich state.
- Mugabe has again been nominated as ZANU-PF party’s candidate and intends to run in an election he wants held in 2012. That would be a year ahead of schedule under the power-sharing deal which has also called for a new constitution to be drawn up and approved ahead of the poll.
* CAMEROON - President Paul Biya (79) 29 YEARS 4 MONTHS
- Biya took over in November 1982 from President Ahmadou Ahidjo and won re-election for another seven-year term in October 2004.
- Biya won re-election by a widely expected landslide in October 2011, allowing him to stay on for another seven-year term, though the opposition denounced the result as fraudulent.
- His rule is widely viewed as autocratic, with members of the cabinet exercising limited discretion over the key portfolios.
* UGANDA - President Yoweri Museveni (67) 26 YEARS 2 MONTHS
- Museveni declared himself president in January 1986 when he seized Kampala after a five-year guerrilla struggle. Museveni banned multi-party politics shortly afterwards but re-introduced it in 1996.
- He was initially credited with restoring the rule of law and fixing a broken economy, but analysts and opposition politicians have accused him of becoming increasingly autocratic and seeking to be president for life.
- Museveni was elected to a fourth term in February 2011, defeating opposition leader Kizza Besigye for a third time. In the past year Museveni has faced “walk to work” protests championed by Besigye to draw attention to the high cost of living and the president’s alleged mismanagement of the economy.
* CONGO REPUBLIC - President Denis Sassou Nguesso (68) 28 YEARS**
- Sassou Nguesso has been in power all bar five of the last 33 years. He seized power in a February 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 civil war and was re-elected in 2002.
- Sassou Nguesso won seven more years in power after taking 78 percent of the vote in the July 2009 presidential election, which opposition parties boycotted.
**NOTE: Not continual rule. (Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)