João Bernardo Vieira, Guinea-Bissau
João Bernardo Vieira became prime minister of the former Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau in 1978, a position he held for a brief two-year period. In 1980, Vieira seized power and went on to rule Guinea-Bissau for 19 years.
In 1994 he morphed into a civilian president and led for another 4-year period before he was thrown out of power and into exile when civil war broke out in 1998.
Vieira returned from exile in 2005, won another round of presidential elections, but was assassinated March 2nd, 2009 at the age of 61.
He was the head of state in Guinea-Bissau for a combined 31-year period.