The definition of “dictator” can be subjective and interpreted differently in different contexts. Definitions can range from “a person with unlimited governmental power” to “a ruler who has complete power in a country obtained by force and uses it unfairly or cruelly.”
However, it is evident that dictator-led countries are generally associated with severe poverty, repression and human rights abuses among the general population.
10 Islam Karimov —Uzbekistan
Karimov’s name is synonymous with torture, and there is strong evidence that the United States outsourced the interrogation of terror suspects to Uzbekistan to take advantage of his relaxed moral standards. In 2005, Karimov’s excesses came out of the closet when he ordered the massacre of hundreds of his citizens.
9. Robert Mugabe — Zimbabwe
After leading a successful anticolonial war of liberation, Mugabe was elected the first president of independent Zimbabwe. It was hoped that, like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Mugabe would guide Africa to a new era of democracy. But with each year that has passed, he has turned increasingly dictatorial, and he has run his country into the ground. Since 1988, life expectancy in Zimbabwe has plunged from sixty-two years to thirty-eight.
8. Paul Kagame —Rwanda
Since coming to power as president of Rwanda in 2000, Kagame has actually reduced poverty. He has introduced free basic education, boosted trade and lowered maternal and child mortality by more than 50
7. Idriss Déby —Chad
Idriss Déby came to power in a military coup and has been ruling Chad since 1990. Déby has accelerated a blood proxy war between Chad and Sudan throughout the 2000s and has been known to suppress opposition and the press. Chad has a 46.7 per cent poverty rate, despite a surplus of oil, uranium and gold.
6. Pierre Nkurunziza —
One of the most violent dictatorships has occurred in Burundi under the rule of Pierre Nkurunziza, a former rebel turned president. Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005 and was re-elected for a third term in 2015, has changed the country’s constitution to allow unlimited presidential terms. In May 2018, Burundi is headed for a constitutional referendum, which would extend Nkurunziza’s rule to 2034.Throughout Nkurunziza’s dictatorial regime, he has been known for purging ethnic Tutsi army officers, suppressing opposition and media and ordering murderous brutality committed against protesters of his extended rule. Additionally, Burundi has some of the highest rates of malnutrition among children under five anywhere in the world, seven million reported malaria cases in 2017 and a 64.6 percent poverty rate overall.
5. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan —Turkey
Erdoğan was the prime minister of Turkey from 2003-2014 until he became president in 2014. Erdoğan has suppressed opposition by closing universities and firing civil
4. Nicolás Maduro —Venezuela
Following Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez’s death, socialist Nicolás Maduro came to power in 2013. Maduro has continued “chavismo,” the corrupt ideology of Chávez, which has destroyed the economy of Venezuela, causing drastic inflation, food and medicine shortages, high unemployment and economic reliance on oil. Venezuela’s poverty rate has spiked to 82 percent
3. Bashar al-Assad —Syria
Bashar al-Assad inherited the leadership of Syria from his father, Hafiz al-Assad, in 2000. Bashar is the balancing point among the various Syrian power forces, including the military, the intelligence service, the nation’s ruling party, and the government bureaucracy. Meanwhile, the people of Syria are not free to express their political opinions, much less choose their leaders.
2. Omar al-Bashir —Sudan
Omar H.A. Al-Bashir – 1945 – – A
In 1989, with a group of middle-rank military officers, he staged a coup d’etat against the elected Coalition government of Sadiq Al-Mahdi.
His policy of Islamization of the Sudan and implementation of the Islamic Law (Sharia) has enraged and fueled the already ongoing war in the South of the Country. Due to the misguided economic and political policies of his government, the economic downturn and the degradation of the state and social institutions in the Sudan continues.
1. Kim Jong-un —North Korea
Kim Jong-un is North Korea’s current dictator and the third generation Kim to rule the country, following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in 2011. As Supreme Leader (many dictators do not call themselves dictators), he follows the political regimen of the Workers’ Party of Korea and has heavily focused on the country’s nuclear weapons program over the wellbeing of North Korean citizens. Forty percent of the nation, which is about 24 million people, lives below the poverty line