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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.

 

Dictators of Africa – Part 1

Gamal Abdel Nasser – Egypt – 1954–1970

Prime Minister of Egypt 1954-1962; President of Egypt 1956-1970. Part of a group of officers in control of Egypt after the coup against British supported King Farouk in 1952; In February 1954, Egyptian Statesman. A graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Gamal Abdel Nasser first rose to prominence as an officer in the first Arab-Israeli war, where he gained recognition for holding out for three weeks in 1948 while his battalion was surrounded in what came to be known as the “Faluja Pocket”. Nasser forced President Muhammad Naguib to appoint him prime minister and give up most practical power to him; later in that year Naguib resigned and Nasser became president by self-appointment; elected by popular vote (as only candidate) in 1956, and subsequently. Many personalistic elements to Nasser’s rule, but nominal parliamentary system under Nasser’s 1956-1970 presidency until his death in 1970.

Ahmed Sékou Touré – Guinea – 1958–1984

President of Guinea. Widely described as a dictator with estimates of up to 50,000 extrajudicial killings during his rule and 250,000 Guineans fleeing his rule.

David Dacko – Central African Republic – 1960–1966, 1979–1981

President of the Central African Republic. Banned opposition; Gained power by coup in 1979, though subsequently stood for election

Modibo Keita – Mali – 1960–1968

Schoolteacher and first president of Mali. Forced socialization and extensive protectionism severely harmed the economy and continued the country’s dependence on aid donors. Discontent with these policies led Keita to implement his own “Cultural Revolution” and establish a network of people’s militias to inform on and punish dissent. In the last few years of his presidency, full powers were vested in an extralegal “National Committee for Defense of the Revolution”. He was deposed in a military coup.

François Tombalbaye – Chad – 1960–1975

Head of State 1960-1962; President of Chad 1962-1975. Never fought a contested election; imprisoned opposition leaders. Launched a “Cultural Revolution” in the early 1970s encouraging authenticité.

Moktar Ould Daddah – Mauritania – 1960–1978

President of Mauritania 1960-1978. Elected President upon independence from France; merged four largest parties into Mauritanian People’s Party, which he made the sole legal party; changed constitution in 1964 to make one party state with authoritarian Presidency; re-elected uncontested three times (1966, 1971 and 1976); overthrown by military in 1978 due to dissatisfaction with the War in Western Sahara.

 

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