Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"You are either a witch or a doctor"

This is at the same time the funniest and most worrying thing I've read in a while. It's as if Yayha Jammeh of Gambia wants to fill the void left in the 'funny old world' columns by the death of the stark staring mad dictator of Turkmenistan. And he probably will for years to come, providing he clings to power.

And that's what this is really all about. Leaders such as Jammeh, Niyazov, or Zimbabwe's Mugabe, will throw up any kind of smokescreen they can to hide the problems in their own countries. Jammeh took power in a coup back in 1994, and after various dubious elections he's still just about there today. He even managed to survive a coup attempt himself last year, and it's no surprise his magical healing powers seem to have developed since then. He's also spent the last few months cosying up to Iran's President Ahmadinejad.

If fancy being a dictator, there are two things you need to do - develop a bizarre personality cult, and try to bolster national pride by strutting the world stage. As long as you don't go too far and invade somewhere, chances are you'll be able to hang on to office as long as you like.

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