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VIDEO. The 7 longest ruling dictators in the world

By RouTe, 17 February 2018, 17:07 (0 comment)
The 20th century has seen its share of dictators, rulers with absolute power, who ran their countries for decades while brutally oppressing any potential opposition. Cuba’s Fidel Castro, for one, was in power for 52 years, while North Korea’s Kim Il-sung (Kim Jong-un’s grandfather) led his people for 48 years.
Credit: Getty Images

While some such guys (yes, they are pretty much always guys) went away, our times still have quite a few dictators holding on to power individually or through the strength of their family's dynasty, like Kim Jong-un or Togo’s Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma. But which ones have been at it for the longest amount of time?

VIDEO. The 7 longest ruling dictators in the world

1. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, has ruled for 42 years.

In a land rife with dictators, Paul Biya is now the longest-ruling dictator in Africa, controlling his country of Cameroon since 1975 when he became Prime Minister. Biya consolidated his power during a fake attempted coup in 1983-1984, which allowed him to eliminate his rivals. While he introduced some reforms to allow for multiparty politics, the elections organized under his leadership have been plagued with voting irregularities and fraud.

VIDEO. The 7 longest ruling dictators in the world

2. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea, has ruled for 38 years.

Obiang has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979, when he ousted his uncle from power in a military coup. He tolerates little opposition, with the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea, which he established, being the only party allowed. Obiang has wide-ranging powers thanks to his country’s constitution, allowing him to rule by decree.

Under his rule, abuses have included "unlawful killings by 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 detention,” according to the U.S. state department.

In 2003, the state-run radio declared Obiang "the country's god” with "all power over men and things." The radio also claimed Obiang was "in permanent contact with the Almighty" and "can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell." If that kind of job description doesn’t make you a dictator, nothing will.

VIDEO. The 7 longest ruling dictators in the world

3. Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, has ruled for 36 years.

While he was chosen as Iran’s President in 1981, Khamenei has been the country’s Supreme Leader since 1989. As Supreme Leader, he is both head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He can rule by decrees, making the final decisions on the government’s main policies regarding the economy, foreign relations, and national planning.

Under his rule, Iran has known numerous protests that have generally been violently put down, with participants like the students who took part in the 1999 protests disappearing in Iranian jails. He has also been accused of ordering assassinations.

The 2017 protests over the state of the Iranian economy featured demonstrators chanting “death to dictator” while taking down banners with Khamenei’s face.

VIDEO. The 7 longest ruling dictators in the world

4. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, has ruled for 33 years.

Sassou Nguesso has been running Congo since 1979. After controlling the country as the head of the single-party regime under the Congolese Party of Labour, he lost power for a 5-year period between 1992 and 1997. He led opposition rebel forces during the Second Civil War in the Congo from 1997 till 1999, when he re-assumed the leadership after ousting President Pascal Lissouba.

Nguesso was implicated in the disappearances of many Congolese refugees during the so-called “Brazzaville Beach affair”.

VIDEO. The 7 longest ruling dictators in the world

5. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, has ruled for 33 years.

Hun Sen has been the Prime Minister of Cambodia from 1985, which makes him the world’s longest-serving prime minister. Coming to power with the bloody Khmer Rouge, Sen has been accused of corruption, as well as using violence and intimidation to maintain his hold on power. Thousands of opposition politicians, activists and human rights workers have been murdered under his regime.

Amnesty International claims that under Hun Sen, Cambodia authorities have been torturing prisoners using electric shock, hot irons and near-suffocation with plastic bags.

VIDEO. The 7 longest ruling dictators in the world

6. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, has ruled for 32 years.

Leading Uganda since 1986, Museveni has been known to suppress political opposition and passed a constitutional amendment in 2005 to scrap presidential term limits. That allowed him to rule for life.

Museveni-headed National Resistance Army (NRA) has been accused of using child soldiers and extrajudicial executions, while his government has been attacking journalists, as per the 2013 World Report. He also backed the institution of the death penalty for homosexuality in 2009.

VIDEO. The 7 longest ruling dictators in the world

7. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, President of Sudan, has ruled for 28 years.

Becoming President in 1989 as a result of a military coup, which ousted a democratically-elected government, al-Bashir has been accused of major corruption during his tenure, looting the wealth of his country. US diplomatic cables showed that he is thought to have embezzled $9 billion of his country’s money and stashed it in London banks.

Al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for overseeing a campaign of mass killing, pillaging and rape during the war in Darfur. The death toll there ranged between 200,000 and 400,000 people. The ICC has issued an arrest warrant against him for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Sudanese government, of course, refuses to recognize that ICC has any jurisdiction over its affairs.

February 11, 2018 by PAUL RATNER

CEO of Randgold not happy with Congo new mining code

By RouTe, 12 February 2018, 15:45 (0 comment)
VIDEO. Randgold calls Congo’s new mining code “draconian”

CEO of Randgold not happy with Congo new mining code
Mark Bristow, CEO of Randgold Resources.

Miners operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo are pulling out the heavy artillery in their fight against the country’s new mining code which, they say, will stifle investment in the copper and cobalt-rich nation.

Today, Africa-focused gold producer Randgold Resources (LON:RSS) issued a press release saying its executives are engaging “at the highest level” with the Joseph Kabila government to head off the enactment of the updated 2002 mining code. According to the company, the law will “severely limit the growth of the mining industry in the DRC as well as the country's own economic prospects.”

After passing by the National Assembly in December, the code sailed through the Senate without opposition in late January and now it is just waiting to be signed into law by the president. Among its main provisions, the legal instrument would increase the royalty on base metals such as copper and cobalt to 3.5 per cent from the current 2 per cent. It would also impose a 5 per cent royalty on what the government calls “strategic metals” and a 50 per cent tax on super profits, which are defined as income realized when commodity prices rise 25 per cent above levels included in a project’s bankable-feasibility study.

CEO of Randgold not happy with Congo new mining code

Once the law is ratified by Kabila, miners would have to comply with it immediately because just four days ago lawmakers also voted in favour of lifting a provision exempting licence holders of compliance with the new code for 10 years.

The 10-year stability clause, writes Randgold Chief Executive Mark Bristow in the media statement, was the basis on which his and other mining companies invested in the DRC in the first place.

Bristow goes on with his criticism saying that when his company, in partnership with AngloGold Ashanti (JSE:ANG) (NYSE:AU), bought the project that later became the Kibali gold mine, they sought and received a formal written declaration from the government which confirmed that the provisions in the 2002 mining code would be honoured.

Despite the alleged commitment, Bristow says that once changes to the legislation started to be discussed in 2014, his firm and others operating in the DRC engaged with country officials and made it clear to the Ministry of Mines that there were serious flaws in the new provisions. Randgold exec adds that it came as a surprise that none of the industry’s suggestions were taken into account. "It is therefore very disappointing to see that none of our proposals and comments are reflected in the legislation, which is, in fact, more draconian in its final form than earlier drafts,” he stated.

CEO of Randgold not happy with Congo new mining code

According to Bloomberg, Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg also visited Kinshasa and discussed the law with President Kabila.

Besides these two firms, China Molybdenum, Eurasian Resources Group, MMG and Ivanhoe Mines will immediately be subjected to the new provisions.

Valentina Ruiz Leotaud | Feb. 4, 2018, 11:08 AM |

VIDEO. Liberia: George Weah is the new president of Liberia

By RouTe, 29 December 2017, 14:24 (0 comment)
George Weah: From ghetto to football star to president

VIDEO. Liberia: George Weah is he new president of Liberia

- Born in 1966 in Monrovia, Liberia
- Signed for Monaco in 1988
- Scores wonder goal for AC Milan against Verona in 1996
- Retires from football in 2003
- First attempt at presidency in 2005
- Wins Senate seat 2014
- Wins Liberian presidential election 2017

VIDEO. Liberia: George Weah is he new president of Liberia

As a footballer, George Weah won accolades few could hope for, picking up the Ballon d'Or and seizing African Footballer of the Year on multiple occasions, alongside a raft of team honours.

Fewer still would dare dream of leading their countries; but after winning around 61 percent of votes in Liberia's presidential election, Weah, from the Congress for Democratic Change party, is set to do just that.

His footballing talent was honed in the slums of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, an experience that saw him catch the attention of French club Monaco - for which he won the French Cup.

Later, Weah played for Italy's AC Milan, winning the Serie A title twice before whittling out the tail end of his career with stints at Chelsea and Manchester City, among others.

Known for his dribbling ability, Weah's most illustrious moment on the pitch came when he single-handedly dismantled an entire team, winning the ball from a Verona corner against AC Milan, and keeping a hold of it until he had placed it in the opposition net with half a dozen players trailing behind him in vain.

Political career

At the peak of elite football, the world of politics seemed distant.

But it wasn't long after his sporting career had drawn to a close that he made his fist foray into political life.

Weah led the first round of voting for Liberia's 2005 presidential election, which took place after decades of civil war and instability but eventually lost to the Unity Party's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who became Africa's first female president.

Defeat was a bitter pill for the former AC Milan star to swallow; Weah initially rejected the result claiming fraud.

His first step towards the presidency came in 2014, defeating Sirleaf's son Robert Sirleaf for a seat in Liberia's senate.

Weah built his political success on an anti-establishment platform, promising economic opportunities to young people.

In a country with where 70 percent of the population is under 35, and around 80 percent live on less than $1.25 a day, the message was well received.

2017 election

Weah cruised to victory in the 2017 presidential vote, beating Johnson-Sirleaf's vice president, Joseph Boakai.

Potential legal challenges his defeated rivals might launch in the wake of the vote are the only remaining hurdles between the former footballer and the top office.

Though his sporting stardom propelled his popularity, Weah's allies were keen to stress that his campaign relied on more than just celebrity.

Speaking to Al Jazeera before their runoff win, Weah's running mate Jewel Howard-Taylor said his roots in Monrovia's deprived neighbourhoods were as important as his footballing career.

His second attribute is his vision. Coming from a ghetto to reach where he did, he must have been committed and hardworking to become the best

VIDEO. Liberia: George Weah is he new president of Liberia

"Let's look at what it takes," Howard-Taylor responded when asked if she was concerned about Weah's lack of political experience.

"Football, first of all, is a team sport," she continued. "If George Weah was an individualistic person, the team would never have had a chance of winning.

"His second attribute is his vision. Coming from a ghetto to reach where he did, he must have been committed and hardworking to become the best."

That's a sentiment shared by Nigerian sports journalist, Oluwashina Okeleji.

"For a man to score goals it is easy, but to run a country is a very different challenge," he told Al Jazeera.

"As a politician, he spent around 10 years trying to get himself into power ... I think the people who mandated him with their vote, trust in him and they believe in him.

"I believe George Weah can actually deliver."

INSIDE STORY: Is Liberia on a path to a democratic transition of power? (24:31)


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