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The Devious Art of Securing Influence in Africa

Stephen Rakowski
Sub-Saharan Africa Analyst, Stratfor
Aug 21, 2016 | 13:03 GMT
Hissene Habre (R), then-president of Chad, greets Mobutu Sese Seko (L), then-president of Zaire, on his arrival in Ndjamena on Aug. 20, 1983. For African leaders in charge of poor, weak states, maintaining personal security is a perennial challenge.
Hissene Habre (R), then-president of Chad, greets Mobutu Sese Seko (L), then-president of Zaire, on his arrival in Ndjamena on Aug. 20, 1983. For African leaders in charge of poor, weak states, maintaining personal security is a perennial challenge.
(JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Leaders around the world must routinely deal with threats to their personal security. For the heads of many African countries, contending with those threats can be an especially fearsome endeavor. Since gaining their independence, many African nations have remained poor, weak states filled with competing ethnic and political factions, making it difficult for any one ruler to satisfy his or her public's demands. Some leaders have imposed authoritarian rule to stifle dissent, only fueling discord. Over the decades, numerous African leaders have been assassinated or chased from power. The former rebel leader and president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Laurent Kabila, for example, was murdered by his own bodyguard, a child soldier, in 2001. In such volatile times and places, presidents, prime ministers and other heads of state in Africa have devoted considerable attention to ensuring their security. To that end, various competing states, individuals and private security companies...

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