[Washington Babylon ]Africa’s Worst Dictator: No, it’s not Mugabe | Harper's Magazine

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[Washington Babylon]

Africa’s Worst Dictator: No, it’s not Mugabe


The situation in Zimbabwe is an outrage and I can understand why the Bush administration, and the entire Western world, is appalled by President Robert Mugabe’s anti-democratic depredations. As has been widely reported by the American media, opposition parties won control of the national assembly in a March balloting, and Mugabe finished second behind an opposition leader in presidential voting, triggering a run-off as neither candidate won an absolute majority. The opposition is threatening to boycott the run-off, since it says that its candidate won the first-round election outright and “has ended Mugabe’s 28-year rule over the once prosperous country whose economy is in ruins.”

Does the world really think that President Bush will stand for this assault on democracy? Even now, Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl is surely recruiting a pundits’ brigade to bombard the nation’s op-ed pages with stirring denunciations of Mugabe’s assault on the administration’s “freedom agenda.”

Meanwhile, you probably haven’t heard much about the weekend voting in Equatorial Guinea, the pro-American, oil-rich nation led for the past 29 years by Brigadier General Teodoro Obiang Nguema. “The West African state voted Sunday in parliamentary and local elections whose outcome was a foregone conclusion for observers, amid opposition charges of voting irregularities and harassment,” reports AFP. “According to first partial official results, the president’s [party] won 100 percent of the vote in some constituencies in the election to parliament.”

The best result by the “major” opposition party came in the Luba district, where it won 0.7 percent of the vote. (Incidentally, that party’s leader, Placido Miko has been repeatedly arrested and tortured by Obiang’s security forces.) Maybe I missed it but so far I haven’t heard any wailing and gnashing of teeth about the results in Equatorial Guinea from Bush or from the nation’s op-ed pages.

Gary Busch writes of the weekend voting in Equatorial Guinea:

Strangely enough there were no protests from a cowed and beaten population nor street demonstrations. Apathy and disgust were the rules. There was also no protest or demonstrations by the ‘international community’ against this travesty of the political process. No UN Security Council protests were made… Poor Zimbabwe doesn’t have oil, ergo it can be a target for the ‘international community’. Equatorial Guinea has masses of oil and this buys them immunity from scrutiny and protest. The ‘international community’ is corrupt and morally bankrupt. It is unlikely to change.

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