I have heard the following said about Stalin: “There are many ways to describe this man, but the word evil actually fits.”
For Gbagbo I’m more thinking along the line of thug or criminal gang leader. Gbagbo is a history professor and a well educated man, who long was seen as the democratic oppostion to Houphhouet Boigny. However, since he came to power, he has been upholding a facade of being a democrat and playing by the rules, whereas in practice espousing all the worst traits of African dictators on a kind of non-grand scale, more like a gang leader than a Mubutu, Bokassa or Stalin. Gbagbo’s traits:
-Xenophobia – In the promotion of Ivoirite
-Tribalism – Putting people of his own Bete ethnicity in control of security forces and key roles within the public administration, and not quite trusting other ethnic groups. Dictators such as Stalin, Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein created a state of fear even among their closest men, as they could at a whim have persons who had been loyal to them many years assassinated. Gabgbo on the other hand (and I got to give him this) was entirely loyal to his tribe to the point of distancing supporters of other ethic groups such as house speaker Mamadou Coulibaly.
-Corruption and nepotism – Revelations of public funds stashed away abroad by Gbagbo’s inner circle are surfacing, and there are many stories of cushy jobs given to mistresses of Gbagbo and his closest men. Generally, an already bad corruption situation got worse during Gbagbo’s rule.
-Political violence – directed against any opposing voices to his power from journalists to demonstrators to comedians
-Genocidal tendencies – encouraging and assisting loyal militia groups to kill northerners and foreigners from ECOWAS countries
-No real efforts of nation building or vision beyond ensuring he and his inner circle stay in power and live a life in luxury
So now that Gbagbo is set to leave power within days or even hours, it feels like the end of a nightmare and soon time to start celebrating before starting to worry about the challenges that lie ahead.
Unfortunately it looks like some of Gbagbo’s militia and armed forces, and maybe even Gbagbo himself have chosen a Scarface ending. Hopefully it will end soon without too many innocent victims and damage to Abidjan.