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Dictators of Africa – Part 6

Hissène Habré – Chad – 1982–1990

Chairman of the Council of State 1982; President of Chad 1982-1990. Gained power in a coup; abolished post of Prime Minister; executed opposition leaders.

Thomas Sankara – Burkina Faso – 1983–1987

President of Upper Volta 1983-1984; President of Burkina Faso 1984-1987. Gained power in coup. Led military regime. Overthrown and killed in coup.

Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya – Mauritania – 1984–2005

Deposed the military head of state, Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla, on December 1984 and declared himself Chairman of the Military Committee for National Salvation. Deposed by Ely Ould Mohamed Vall in a bloodless coup d’état.

Ibrahim Babangida – Nigeria – 1985–1993

Annulled the most free and fair presidential election in the history of Nigeria, leading to the death of the presidential candidate Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali – Tunisia – 1987–2011

President of Tunisia. Although he announced political pluralism in 1992, his Democratic Constitutional Rally (formerly Neo-Destour party) continues to dominate the national politics and there is no genuine open political debate. In 1999, although two unknown alternative candidates were permitted for the first time to stand in the presidential elections, Ben Ali was re-elected with 99.66% of the vote. A controversial constitutional referendum in 2002 allowed him to seek re-election and contemplate the possibility of remaining in office until 2014. On October 24, 2004, he was again re-elected, officially taking 94.48% of the vote. Certain books, periodicals and internet sites are banned or blocked. The National Television frequently show his actions during a week, but often the President only appears in passing on television. Removed from office by a popular uprising in January 2011.

Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir – Sudan – 1989–present

President of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation 1989-1993; President of Sudan 1993–present. Took power in a military coup and increasingly centralized power into him. Widely believed to be implicated in the Darfur Janjaweed pogroms.

Idriss Déby – Chad – 1990–present

Head of State 1990-1991; President of Chad 1991 to date. Gained power in a coup; continues to suppress opposition and press.

Sani Abacha – Nigeria – 1993–1998

Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council 1993-1998. Seized power in a coup; persecuted opposition; never stood for election. Jailed Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 presidential election; presided over execution of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.


 

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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