Abusive national leadership
Other Names: Tyrannical dictatorship
Rule by fiat
Psychopathic national leaders
Self-aggrandizing national leaders
Nature: Some despots, once secure in their hold over a country, feel free to indulge in a wide range of arbitrary acts. These may include grandiose public works at the expense of the poor, self-aggrandisement, adoption of unusual dress style, attribution of grandiloquent titles, blatant favouritism in appointments, unwarranted claims to expertise and wisdom, and imposition of an idiosyncratic ideology through the education system (possibly based on an extensive volume of unsubstantiated writing). Policies may result in extensive violence to major sections of the population, including forced resettlement, systematic violations of human rights and extra-judicial executions, and support for international terrorism.
Incidence: Only 6 of the more than 150 heads of state in the history of post-colonial Africa have relinquished power voluntarily. The remainder were evicted or assassinated in military coups for economic incompetence, political tyranny and other failings. Even though many of them gained independence from colonial rule, this did not enable them to take on the leadership of their countries effectively and avoid economic ruin.
Claim: Because of the likelihood of reprisals, it is standard practice within the international community to refrain from naming the countries or leaders with such characteristics, since "everyone knows who they are" from media reports. In the 1970s and 1980s it has been argued that many of the dictators of developing countries were actually psychologically disturbed. For example, Gaddafi of Libya, Amin of Uganda, Khomeini of Iran, and Bokassa of Central African Empire are all reported to have authorized and/or participated in atrocities, ranging from the massacre of a classroom of school children, to the storming of foreign embassies and taking hostages, and even to cannibalism.
Problem Type: D: Detailed problems
Date of last update 11.05.2000 – 00:00 CEST