How to Show a Dictator the Door





ZIMBABWE’S political crisis lurched on last week as President Robert Mugabe, the strongman who has ruled the California-size country in southern Africa for the past 28 years, refused to release the results of the March 29 elections. In old-fashioned autocratic style, the government’s police began to round up opposition supporters.

The world is losing patience, but Mr. Mugabe is only the latest example of dictators in Africa and elsewhere — some more bloodthirsty than others — who have overstayed their welcome, and whom the West have tried to winkle out of power.

What lessons can be learned from past attempts to oust seemingly immovable oppressors? Do the lessons apply in the case of Zimbabwe? What are the options for dealing with Mr. Mugabe?

This strategy has worked, sort of, before.

In 1997, President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now Congo, the very model of an African dictator dirty with corruption as his country collapsed around him, was promised safe passage by his former ally, the United States, and flew to Morocco. (He died of prostate cancer in exile soon after.)


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