Parade Magazine, which is distributed with the Saturday editions of major daily newspapers in the United States, has published its list of the world’s 20 worst dictators for 2007.
(c) Parade Magazine
The magazine defines a dictator as “a head of state who exercises arbitrary authority over the lives of his citizens and who cannot be removed from power through legal means. The worst commit terrible human-rights abuses.”
The list is based on reports from international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International, and the US State Department.
Topping the list for the third year running is Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, who according to Parade Magazine “retains his position as the worst dictator because of his ongoing deadly human-rights abuses in the Darfur region of Sudan.” Eight other African Presidents are in al-Bashir’s unwelcome company; Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (7), Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya (9), Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea (11), King Mswati III of Swaziland (12), Isayas of Afewerki of Eritrea (13), Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia (17), Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (18), and Paul Biya of Cameroon (19).
Regarding Paul Biya of Cameroon who makes the list for the first time, the report states the following:
Independent Cameroon’s first dictator, Ahmadou Ahidjo, resigned after 22 years in power when his French doctors convinced him that he had a terminal illness. He didn’t, but by the time he realized this, his replacement, Paul Biya, was safely in place, and Ahidjo had to flee the country. Cameroon has the reputation of being one of the world’s most corrupt countries. Biya is credited with instituting one of the more creative tactics in the history of rigged elections. After international election-monitoring groups denounced his elections as “designed to fail,” Biya hired his own group of international monitors. Made up of ex-U.S. congressmen of both parties, the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress declared Cameroon’s 2004 election as free and fair. Another observer group, led by former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark, arrived earlier and denounced as rigged the registration process, which the U.S. group had missed.
So do you think this is an accurate list? Is anyone missing from it, or is there someone on this year's list who doesn’t deserve his place on Parade’s Hall of Shame? Click here to go to the comments section of the Parade Magazine website and join the raging debate.