Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Despite Gaddafi’s fate, Africa’s despotstrudge on

which has further decimated the rank of
Africa's despots, the continent's remaining
dictators show no sign of relinquishing
power even after being in the saddle for
AT the initial stage of his 42-year reign in
Libya, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was the
common man's hero as he pandered to the
whims of the people. He brought visible
changes to the country and made life
meaningful to the average citizens. He was
said to have provided electricity, housing,
education, infrastructure, health care,
employment, executed world's largest
irrigation project, shared part of the oil
receipts with the people and more. But he
ran into problem with his people because
he denied them their fundamental right; the
right to choose their own leaders.
Throughout his 42-year reign, he
successfully reined in opposition. He
brooked no contrary opinion; everyone
who voiced a converse concern was treated
as an enemy because dissent was
pronounced illegal in 1973 and those found
guilty of the law either ended up six feet
below the ground level or hundreds of
miles away in foreign lands. In 1974, the
former Libyan ruler also declared that
anyone found guilty of forming a political
party would be executed. Thus, Gaddafi
steadily depleted opposition groups until he
came to see himself as Lord over Libya. By
then, he had reached the peak as Libya's
maximum ruler, but that also was the
beginning of his decline.
As more people who Gaddafi perceived as
enemies escaped from Libya, the exiles
began to gather outside their homeland to
form a force against Gaddafi. The exiles,
working in concert with dissatisfied Libyans
within the country, formed an interim
government known as the National
Transition Council (NTC), which capitalised
on the delay in the delivery of housing
units promised by the government to cause
unrest by staging series of protests in
January this year. The government
promptly reacted to this by floating a
20billion euro investment fund to provide
housing and development.
Though the government's gesture scaled
down the level of protest, it did not last as
there were fresh outbreaks of violence in
February. Aided by the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation (NATO) forces, the Libyan crisis
escalated daily until it became a civil war.
Initially, Gaddafi discountenanced the
protesters, but with the fall of Benghazi in
February, followed by Tobruk, Misrata,
Bayda and other cities, the heat became
very fierce on the maximum ruler. But there
was no respite until he eventually lost
Tripoli to the rebels and was later captured
in his home town of Sirte before being
Gaddafi was the hero of many African
despots because he was seen to be firmly in
control of his country and had enough
resources to ward off unwanted foreign
meddling even as he helped many
dissidents to power in other countries.
Therefore, his conquer should have sent a
signal to other dictators that they cannot
have their way perpetually. However, this
has not been the case as many of them
believe they are invincible and stubbornly
hold on to power despite rebellion in their
Teodore Obiang Mbasogo
The Equatorial Guinea strongman became
the country's president in 1979 after
staging a coup that ousted Francisco Macia
Nguema. With the coming of a new
constitution in 1982, he was elected in an
election where he was the sole candidate as
president for a term of seven years and
was re-elected in 1989 also as a sole
candidate. Even after other political parties
were allowed to participate in the election,
he was re-elected in 1996, 2002 and 2009.
One of the rationales for the coup that
brought Mbasogo to power was that his
predecessor was brutal and had embarked
on genocide. Though, initially Mbasogo was
seen to be moderate, in order to have
absolute control on the state, he is also said
to have embarked on “unlawful killings
using security forces, government-
sanctioned kidnappings, systematic torture
of prisoners and detainees by security
forces, life threatening conditions in prisons
and detention facilities, impunity, arbitrary
arrest, detention, and incommunicado

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