Nothing to laud about ruthless rule

2009-09-05 08:55

THIS week Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has been celebrating 40

years since he led a bloodless coup. The celebrations featuring banquets and

carnival-like floats were less about Libyans rejoicing and more about Gaddafi

telling the world that he had arrived.

There is very little to celebrate about life under the man without

an official title, sometimes described as “Leader of the Revolution” and at

other times as “Brother Leader”.

Much of it has to do with Gaddafi’s control of all aspects of

political and economic life in Libya, very little of which can be described as a


That’s mainly because Gaddafi’s authoritarian rule has stripped

ordinary Libyans of every possible freedom. Forty years of ruthless rule have

seen opposition crushed and dissent silenced.

Libya is estimated to export an average $10 billion (R76?billion)

of oil a year. All Gaddafi’s government has to show for it are lots of greased

palms among African leaders to serve “Brother Leader’s” ambition to rule the

whole continent.

After 40 years it seems, as in the case of Gabon’s Omar Bongo, only

death will loosen Gaddafi’s grip on power. And, like Bongo, it seems Gaddafi is

grooming his son to take over when the inevitable happens.

That is very sad, because ­hereditary authoritarian rule is the

very last thing for Africa to cheer and celebrate.

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