Robert Mugabe is the second and current President of Zimbabwe. One of the leaders of the liberation movement against white-minority rule, he was elected into power as the head of government since 1980, as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987, and as the first executive head of state since 1987.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is the former President of the Tunisian Republic. He held the office from 7 November, 1987, until he was forced to step down and flee the country on 14 January, 2011. Ben Ali was appointed Prime Minister in October 1987, and assumed the Presidency in November 1987 in a bloodless coup from then President Habib Bourguiba, who was declared incompetent.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is the fourth and current President of the Arab Republic of Egypt. He was appointed Vice President in 1975, and assumed the Presidency on October 14, 1981, following the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat. He is the longest-serving Egyptian ruler since Muhammad Ali Pasha.
Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir is the current President of Sudan and the head of the National Congress Party. He came to power in 1989 when he, as a brigadier in the Sudanese army, led a group of officers in a bloodless military coup that ousted the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.
Kim Jong-il is the de facto leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea); the official leader of the country is still his long-deceased father Kim Il-sung, the founder of the state. He is the Chairman of the National Defense Commission, General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, the ruling party since 1948, and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, the fourth largest standing army in the world. In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended and now implicitly refers to him as the "Supreme Leader".
Islam Karimov is an Uzbek politician who has been the first President of Uzbekistan since 1990.
Ayatollah Khamenei is an Iranian politician as well as the figurehead of the Muslim conservative establishment in Iran. He was president of Iran from 1981 to 1989, and has been Supreme Leader of Iran since June 1989 when the Assembly of Experts appointed him to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang Zemin as the top leader of fourth generation leadership of the Communist Party of China.
Bashar al-Assad is the President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party, and the son of former President Hafez al-Assad. Al-Assad was confirmed as president by an unopposed referendum in 2001.
As Egypt boils, we take a look at some of the world's longest ruling autocrats. First on our list is Muammar Gaddafi who has been the de facto leader of Libya since a coup in 1969.