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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 3

Gnassingbé Eyadéma – Togo – 1967–2005

President of Togo. Gained power in a coup; never fought a contested election until 1998; banned tortured and killed opposition. Fostered a cult of personality that was reinforced after he was the sole survivor of an airplane crash in 1974. In late 1991, troops loyal to Eyadéma closed a constitutional conference that had shifted most executive power to a new transitional government and banned Eyadéma’s RPT party. January 1993 saw a mass exodus of residents to neighboring states after security forces fired on pro-democracy demonstrators. Further repression followed a purported 1994 coup attempt.

Omar Bongo – Gabon – 1967–2009

Chairman of the Military National Liberation Committee 1968-1969; Head of State 1969-1979; President of Mali 1979-1991. Seized power in a coup; banned all opposition; installed a police state; established one-party state in 1979.

Moussa Traoré – Mali – 1968–1991

As vice president, he acceded to the presidency following the death of President Léon M’ba. In 1968, Bongo decreed a one-party state under his Gabonese Democratic Party and was thrice elected unopposed in the 1970s and 1980s. He became very wealthy during the country’s oil boom. Open elections were held in 1990 and Bongo was re-elected in 1993, 1998 and 2005. Observers have criticized the elections as unfair and corruption watchdogs have accused the president of nepotism. Riots resulting from the mysterious death in 1990 of prominent dissident Joseph Rendjambe in a government hotel room were put down by French troops.

Francisco Macías Nguema – Equatorial Guinea – 1968–1979

President of Equatorial Guinea 1968-1979. Elected in 1968 but declared himself President for Life in 1972; “extreme personality cult”; over a third of population fled his regime. Banned fishing and sanctioned the deaths of most of his pre-independence political rivals, including ex-prime minister Bonifacio Ondó Edu and foreign minister Atanasio Ndongo Miyone. Declared an atheist state by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. As many as 50,000 civilians were killed, in particular those of the Bubi ethnic minority on Bioko associated with relative wealth and intellectualism.

Gaafar Nimeiry – Sudan – 1969–1985

Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council 1969-1971; President of Sudan 1971-1985. Gained power in a military coup, banned opposition, dissolved southern Sudanese government, imposed sharia law. Executed several leading communists (the most prominent being Abdel Khaliq Mahjub and Joseph Garang) after a botched 1971 coup attempt.

 

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