"...Nigeria. Rwanda. Uganda. . Gabon. Robert Mugabe's regime in has plenty of competitors for the title of "least democratic in Africa."
But while he has been singled out for condemnation by the West, leaders of other autocratic states in Africa have largely been able to avoid sanctions and isolation. Many have friends in Western capitals. Or play a strategic role in the war against terrorist groups. Or sit on oil...How many African leaders can point a clean finger at him? How many held a better election than his one-man runoff that followed a campaign of violence against his foes that induced the opposition leader to quit the race?
"It seems Washington and European governments will accept even the most dubious election so long as the 'victor' is a strategic or commercial ally," Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch said
Among countries he singled out as sham democracies are oil-rich Chad and Nigeria; Uganda, whose 's friendship with President Bush has shielded him from criticism; and Ethiopia, a major U.S. ally against Islamic militants.Other oil producers that have managed to avoid international condemnation include Angola, which hasn't held a presidential election since 1992, and , where President Omar Bongo seized power in a 1967 coup and now reigns as Africa's longest-serving leader.
"Countries that have made a point of overtly aligning themselves with U.S. narratives and policies regarding terrorism appear to have benefited not only from financial and military support but seem successfully to have diverted attention away from their internal poor governance and human rights abuse," said Akwe Amosu, senior analyst at the Open Society Institute in Washington.
We are minded of that oft quoted statement of diplomacy and real politic.
"He might be a son-of-a-bitch---but he is OUR son-of-a -bitch"