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Dictators of Africa – Part 7

Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi Libya 1969 – present

Also known simply as Colonel Gaddafi; born 7 June 1942) has been the de facto leader of Libya since a coup in 1969. From 1972, when Gaddafi relinquished the title of prime minister, he has been accorded the honorifics “Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” or “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution” in government statements and the official press. With the death of Omar Bongo of Gabon on 8 June 2009, he became the longest serving of all current non-royal national leaders. He is also the longest-serving ruler of Libya since Libya, then Tripoli, became an Ottoman province in 1551.

Yahya Jammeh – Gambia – 1994–Present

President of Gambia. Gained power in coup d’état. Right to the press and free speech suppressed. Stood for three elections (1996, 2001, and 2006); last election deemed unfair by opposition.

Laurent-Désiré Kabila – Congo-Kinshasa – 1997–2001

President of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko in coup. No elections held during ongoing, interstate First and Second Congo Wars.

Charles G. Taylor – Liberia – 1997–2003

President of Liberia 1997-2003. Elected, but widely described as a dictator. Linked to “blood diamonds” and illegal arms trading. Believed to have interfered frequently in the internal affairs of neighboring states while a warlord, before his election to the presidency.

François Bozizé – Central African Republic – 2003–present

President of the Central African Republic 2003 to date. Gained power in a coup and suspended the constitution, though he has restored some democracy.

Ely Ould Mohamed Vall – Mauritania – 2005–2007

Chairman of the Military Council for Justice and Democracy. Gained power via a military coup. Though he has said to relinquish power to an elected government in 2007.

 

Dictators of Africa – Part 5

Daniel arap Moi – Kenya  – 1978–2002

President of Kenya. Changed constitution to establish a de jure one-party state; resorted to repressive rule, including torture and imprisonment without trial.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – Equatorial Guinea – 1979–present

Chairman of the Supreme Military Council 1979-1982; President of Equatorial Guinea 1982–present. Deposed his uncle in a violent coup; opposition is banned in all but name.

José Eduardo dos Santos – Angola – 1979–present

President of Angola. One-party state; did not stand for election until 1992.

João Bernardo Vieira – Guinea-Bissau – 1980–1984 and 2005–present

Become president by a coup. Killing and exiled opposition. Famous for the Guinea-Bissau Civil War.

Samuel K. Doe – Liberia – 1980–1990

Chairman of the People’s Redemption Council 1980-1984; President of Liberia 1984-1990. Gained power in a military coup that killed President William R. Tolbert, Jr., a reformer. Promoted Krahn chauvinism and “died a multi-millionaire and proud owner of mansions and estates”.

Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe – 1980–present

Gained power through election, and repeatedly re-elected, but criticized for steps used to maintain power. From 1999 on, used police and militant groups like the War Veterans Association and Border Gezi Youth to enforce ZANU-PF policies and to prevent opponents from voting; called “king” by his aides. Arrested and tortured opponents and human rights activists; gave amnesty to murderers of his political opponents in 2000; ignores court rulings. Criticized as dictator by Desmond Tutu and Vladimir Putin.

Jerry Rawlings – Ghana – 1981–1992

Gained power in a military coup during 1979 but handed it over. Re-took power in another coup of 1981. Elected President in 1992 and again in 1996 before standing aside as per the constitution.

André Kolingba – Central African Republic – 1981–1993

Chairman of the Military Committee of National Recovery 1981-1985; President of the Central African Republic 1985-1993. Gained power in a coup; persecuted opposition; allowed (and lost) free elections in 1993. Attempted second coup in 2001.

Hosni Mubarak – Egypt – 1981–present

President of Egypt. Did not stand in a contested election until 2005, when a highly-restricted democratic process was allowed.

Paul Biya – Cameroon – 1982–present

He served under President Ahmadou Ahidjo and became Prime Minister in 1975. Ahidjo resigned on November 6, 1982 and Biya became president. After years of totalitarian rule, he allowed the creation of opposition parties in 1990 but his re-elections have been marked by widespread fraud and intimidation.

 

Dictators of Africa – Part 2

Felix Houphouët-Boigny – Côte d’Ivoire 1960–1993

President of Côte d’Ivoire. Ruled until 1990 with all opposition banned, but not considered particularly repressive. Relocated the official capital to his home village of Yamoussoukro and constructed the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, the largest religious structure in Africa.

Milton Obote – Uganda – 1962–1972, 1980–1985

Prime Minister of Uganda 1962-1966; President of Uganda 1966-1971 and 1980-1985. Suspended the constitution and declared himself President and Prime Minister in 1966.

Hastings Kamuzu Banda – Malawi – 1963–1994

Prime Minister of Malawi 1963-1966; President of Malawi 1966-1994. Banned all opposition in 1966; declared himself President for Life in 1971; exiled and killed opposition leaders. Ordered that a letter bomb be sent to exiled opposition leader Attati Mpakati; suspected of being involved in the car crash deaths of senior Congress Party leaders; violently crushed an attempted rebellion. Aged 98, he allowed and lost a free election in 1994.

Kenneth Kaunda – Zambia – 1964–1991

President of the Republic of Zambia 1964-1991.Elected 1964, banned all political parties in Zambia, viewed himself as “WAMUYAYA” (eternal President).Accused of torturing political opponents. Defeated by Frederick Chiluba in 1991.

Houari Boumediene – Algeria – 1965–1978

President of Algeria from June 19, 1965 to his death, (December 27, 1978); Chairman of the Revolutionary Council until December 12, 1976).

In June 1965, Boumédienne seized power in a bloodless coup. Initially lacking a personal power base, he was seen as a weak ruler. But after a botched coup attempt against him by military officers in 1967 he tightened his rule, and then remained Algeria’s undisputed ruler until his death in 1978.

Jean-Bédel Bokassa – Central African Republic – 1966–1979

President of the Central African Republic 1966-1976; Emperor Bokassa I of the Central African Empire 1976-1979. Bokassa overthrew the autocratic Dacko in a swift coup d’état and assumed power as president of the Republic and head of the sole political party, the Mouvement pour l’évolution sociale de l’Afrique Noire (MESAN). Bokassa abolished the constitution of 1959 on January 4 and began to rule by decree. He proclaimed himself emperor in 1976.


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