Of democrats and dictators – AEI – American Enterprise Institute

Quick question: Who comes to mind when you hear the word “dictator”? Perhaps you’re one of those predictable people who jumps to name Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Mussolini, archetypes of the 20th century strongman. If you’re inclined towards the Middle Eastern variant of the breed, maybe Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi or Hafez al-Assad springs to mind.

Closer to India, of course, we recall Pakistan’s Zia-ul-Haq and Hussein Muhammad Ershad in Bangladesh. We don’t need to venture as far as Africa or Latin America, arguably the most prolific suppliers of tin pot despots, to be spoilt for choice.

For a less conventional twist on the matter, turn to a poster that’s recently been all the rage on Twitter. Titled ‘Great Dictators of the World’, the poster depicts, in colourful, stamp-sized portraits, 20 historical figures culled from 1,200 years of history: from Charlemagne (born in 742 CE) to Mao Zedong (died in 1976).

Not surprisingly, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Mussolini make the cut. Somewhat less probably, European monarchs Catherine the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Henry VIII and Charlemagne haphazardly rub shoulders with the revolutionaries Mazzini and Garibaldi. But the biggest surprises in the portrait gallery are leaders widely recognised as symbols of democracy: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

On social media, ‘Great Dictators of the World’, published by Mahesh Arts of Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, most likely in the 1980s or 1990s, evokes mirth. It’s not just the oddball choices. (What kind of imbecile equates Lincoln with Hitler?) The spellings are things of wonder: Hentry VIII, Garibaldy, Mazni and, a hot favourite, the androgynous Johan of Arc. By my count, only nine – ten if you’re generous – of 20 names are spelt correctly.

The portraits bear the stylistic imprint of Tamil cinema. A chubby cheeked, pencil moustached Nasser (spelled Nazar) looks suspiciously like a young MG Ramachandran. With his bushy moustache and swarthy skin, Stalin would not look out of place in a stylised dance sequence by a waterfall. For some odd reason, Catherine the Great, labelled simply Catherine, wears some sort of pink pointy cap. This makes me wonder: Did the late, great Jayalalithaa don a similar costume once?

Amusement aside, the poster raises a question. What if sloppiness alone does not explain the strange choice of alleged dictators. Perhaps Mahesh Arts inadvertently captured a deeper truth about how many Indians view politics. Elites may scoff, but maybe the average voter – to the extent that he’s aware of Lincoln and Stalin at all – would see no meaningful distinction between them. Both led large nations. Both commanded armies. Both carved out space for themselves in history books.

The historian Timothy Snyder estimates that Stalin’s psychotic rule led to as many as nine million deaths. Mao killed multiples of that just in the Great Leap Forward, his disastrous bid to fast forward China from an agrarian to an industrial society.

Neither Stalin nor Mao are widely reviled in India. In Tamil Nadu, a politician named in honour of the late Soviet dictator stands poised to become chief minister. At least in theory, gun-toting guerrillas fighting the Indian state in central India are self-professed disciples of the murderous Mao.

In day-to-day life, Indians make few value judgments on the sources of power, whether it’s the ballot or brute force. Though India chose democracy at Independence, during the Cold War its leaders had no qualms about embracing a long line of Soviet dictators. Mao’s China may have continued to receive similar consideration had it not attacked India in 1962.

Much of India’s affinity towards the Soviets can be explained by realpolitik of the sort that many countries practice. But it also suggests that democracy does not rank high among the qualities by which Indians judge other countries.

In 2017, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of Indians liked the idea of military rule. Virtually every middle-class Indian probably knows at least one person who at some point has declared that India needs a dictator to set it right. In state after state – West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Telangana to name just three – voters regularly elect leaders whose faith in democratic values such as freedom of speech is limited at best.

China’s rise as an economic and technological superpower – a near peer competitor to the long-dominant United States – will stress test India’s democratic experiment like never before. When India gained independence, Western democracies happened to be the most advanced nations on the planet. They boasted better cars, colleges, hospitals and home appliances than their authoritarian counterparts.

Across the post-colonial world, the glow of material success made democracy more appealing. But what happens if Beijing University becomes more prestigious than the Ivy League, Shanghai hospitals overtake their New York counterparts, and Huawei races ahead of Apple? Will Indians continue to root for democracy even if they see it as demonstrably inferior to authoritarianism in terms of delivering development?

Making predictions is a dicey business. In 1947, few pundits favoured India’s odds of surviving as a vibrant, multi-lingual and multi-religious democracy. It may well continue to beat the odds, but only if democrats acknowledge the insidious appeal of authoritarianism instead of pretending that it doesn’t exist.

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Suspected War-Criminal, Sudanese ex-dictator is Tried for Corruption – OCCRP

Sudanese former military dictator Omar al-Bashir appeared on Monday in front of judges accompanied by 95 lawyers who will be defending him from corruption charges, Al Jazeera reports. 

WJHaSySXNz51tKPc4tERuVQSEpdeZND1Former Sudanese dictator Omar Al Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 yearsThe 75-year-old ruled over Sudan for 30 years before he was ousted and detained by his own security forces in April, following months of popular protests. 

Bashir is accused of “possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally.” 

A detective testified that during questioning Al-Bashir admitted receiving ‘millions of dollars’ from Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported. 

In April authorities seized from Bashir’s residence more than US$113 million worth of cash in three currencies. A month later, prosecutors said that the former dictator is accused of killing people during the anti-regime protests that started in December 2018 when authorities tripled the price of bread.

But internationally al-Bashir is wanted for much more serious crimes than graft.The International Criminal Court, ICC, issued two arrest warrants for the autocratic ruler, the first on March 4, 2009 and the second on July 12, 2010, for war crimes he allegedly committed in the country’s province of Darfur.

After several years of collecting evidence, the ICC indicted him in 2016 of genocide, accusing him of having used chemical weapons on civilians, including children, at least 30 times. 

The UN estimated that 200,000 to 400,000 people died in the conflict, with a further 2.7 million displaced. Sudan is still refusing to hand him over to the court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Commenting on Monday’s trial, Amnesty International‘s Director for East Africa,Joan Nyanyuki, said that while it was “a positive step towards accountability for some of his alleged crimes, he remains wanted for heinous crimes committed against the Sudanese people.”

“The Sudanese authorities must hand al-Bashir over to the International Criminal Court to answer charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity’, remainding of the victims who “still wait for justice and reparations more than a decade since the ICC issued the first warrant for his arrest.”

The next hearing is scheduled for Saturday. 

How Informers Prolong Agony Under The Cuban Dictatorship – PanAm Post

The communist dictatorship is still in power in Cuba thanks, in large part, to the informer system. (Facebook)

Spanish – The longest dictatorship on the American continent is still in control after 60 years, thanks mainly to its job of infiltration in civil society that “purges” the streets of dissidents.

Its latest target was a 77-year-old woman who sells peanuts in the streets out of necessity, thus dismantling the propaganda of a welfare state that supposedly guarantees the care of all its inhabitants.

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The visibly malnourished state of the lady, as well as her testimony, makes it clear that Cuba is not the utopia that its defenders claim.

The informers serving the regime, or “chivatones” as the opposition refers to them, reported this “counter-revolutionary” to the police because she exposes to the tourists the fact that the Cubans are suffering without necessities.

Two women, who claimed to work in the education sector, rebuked the older woman for not asking the government for help and instead receiving clothes and money from tourists. They screamed at her, saying that 5% of their salary went to the service of older people like her and questioned her for speaking ill about the government.

The allocation of funds that the regime steals from state employees is not public information because publishing official statistics is a mandate of the dictatorship.

The old lady had hand-wrapped peanut packages. She testified before cameras that she had been selling them for 30 years. She maintains that she does not harm anyone. Apparently, she is damaging the image of the regime, and her action was reason enough to be reported to the police.

According to the logic of state employees, it was reprehensible for a woman to work autonomously, rather than being dependent on the state and therefore on the taxpayer. Meanwhile, they think it is respectable to live at the expense of others, as they do working for the regime.

Latin American tourists residing in California, U.S. filmed the video. The outrage was massive. The informers accused them of being “counter-revolutionaries.” It didn’t take long for reactions to start pouring on the internet. Some internet-users claimed that the women screaming at the elderly lady were, in fact, government agents disguised as a civilians to portray the false image to the world that everything is well in Cuba.

The constitution allows for an attack, even armed assault, against opponents of the regime

Faced with the digital age and the ease of transmitting news via the telephone, the communist dictatorship faces a new challenge. It cannot control the transmission of news as it used to. So they filter videos like this and multiply the number of people who can observe how the regime treats citizens.

“Citizens have the right to fight by all means, including armed struggle, when no other recourse is possible, against anyone who attempts to overthrow the political, social, and economic order established by this constitution,” dictates the new Cuban constitution. Moreover, it refers to the “irrevocable” character of socialism with this order.

Thus, there exists a disciplinary system within civil society whereby civilians can take it upon themselves to “correct” others, and in case they are unable to persuade, they can appeal to the security forces.

There’s a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution on every block

The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) was created in Havana on September 28, 1960, to guarantee both the functioning and the perpetuity of the regime. Their role is to collectively monitor external interference and acts of destabilization of the prevailing political system.

Of the 12 million Cubans, more than half are members of the CDR: 7.6 million members in favor of socialism. In other words, a large part of the population ensures their survival by keeping the dictatorship afloat.

Each block has a CDR, and this operates at a neighborhood, provincial, national, and even parliamentary scale. It also assures a source of work for Cubans in the service of the revolution. It provides a minimum wage, recently increased to 16 dollars a month; a fact that the “chivatona” highlights in the video as something positive.

Public employees earn miserable wages. Meanwhile, according to Forbes magazine, Fidel Castro left an inheritance of 900 million USD, an outlandish amount in contrast to a civil society with an average wage that rose to 42 USD a few weeks ago (not the same as the minimum wage of 16 USD) due to the inability of Cubans to acquire essential goods with any less.

Elian Gonzalez, from rafter to Defense Committee leader

Thus, the leader of the revolution was getting rich for half a century while his subjects were impoverished. At least two million Cubans have escaped from the island, crossing shark-infested waters on a raft, due to poverty and political persecution.

Among them is Elian Gonzalez, a child whose mother died as she drowned while trying to escape from Cuba. He was returned to Cuba at the behest of his father. There, as an adult, he became the leader of the CDR in his area.

“I don’t profess any religion, but if I did, my God would be Fidel Castro.”

Fifteen years after his rescue on the high seas, Gonzalez was interviewed by Granma, the regime’s official media. “Fidel Castro is like a father to me,” he declared, “I don’t profess any religion, but if I did, my God would be Fidel Castro,” he added.

In conclusion, the network of state control that runs from the Assembly to the streets ensures that no one goes against the regime and constitutionally validates ideological persecution and even aggression against opponents.

The constitution openly endorses the persecution of the so-called counter-revolutionaries, and the civil society loyal to the regime is complicit.

Sudan signs power-sharing deal as its former dictator goes to trial – Vox.com

Omar al-Bashir ruled Sudan for 30 years, overseeing a bloody and oppressive regime. On Monday, his corruption trial began — a symbol of Sudan’s extraordinary, if shaky, political transition toward democracy.

Ahead of its deposed leader appearing in court, on Saturday Sudan’s military and civil leaders formally signed a power-sharing deal that’s intended to bring democratic elections to the country in three years.

It’s a remarkable moment for Sudan, a country scarred by dictatorship and civil war. Al-Bashir took power in a 1989 coup and maintained his grip on the country for 30 years despite international pressure over Sudan’s support of terrorism and perpetration of genocide in the Darfur region.

The Sudanese had protested their government before, but had not succeeded in putting lasting pressure on the government — until this year. Demonstrations began in December 2018 after al-Bashir ended government fuel and wheat subsidies, causing gas shortages and a spike in food prices.

The protests turned into an outlet for people’s broader frustration and fury with al-Bashir, and transformed into a more organized political movement, led by professionals, students, and women and fueled by social media. The sustained challenge to al-Bashir’s government led to his downfall in April.

The Sudanese military took over, but protesters continued to demand a full democracy. After months of negotiations — which were nearly sidelined by the military’s brutal crackdowns against protesters — the military and the civilian leadership reached a preliminary deal in July, which they finalized this weekend.

The power-sharing deal isn’t quite a democracy, but it’s supposed to pave the way for future elections. The Transitional Military Council (TMC) — the armed forces that have ruled Sudan since the coup that forced out al-Bashir in April — and the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the umbrella organization representing the pro-democracy protesters, will lead the country jointly through an 11-member sovereign council. The council will collectively act as the head of state, with power split among five civilian leaders and five members of Sudan’s armed forces.

Both the civilian and military leadership will jointly select a civilian as the 11th leader. The military will lead the council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18 months, in preparation for democratic elections in 2022.

A prime minister will also be selected by the sovereign council, nominated by the civilians represented by the Alliance for Freedom and Change. The new prime minister will effectively be in charge of the bureaucracy, made up of about 20 cabinet ministries. Abdalla Hamdok, an economist who’s worked in international organizations, including the United Nations, has been nominated as Sudan’s prime minister and is expected to take office September 1.

The power-sharing deal also enshrines certain rights, including the right to freedom of expression and assembly. It also plans for the creation of a legislative body, with two-thirds of the seats going to the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

But questions remain about the power-sharing arrangement, even as celebrations erupted as Sudan finalized the deal this weekend.

Activists and experts I spoke to back in July worried about the role of the military in the new government and feared that their influence would stymie reform and accountability. Other concerns, including the lack of female representation, persist. And the new government doesn’t instantly change the other challenges Sudan faces, from a depleted economy to continued conflict in many regions, including South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

This is still a remarkable moment for Sudan, even if the country’s political future is uncertain. Almost nine months since the protests began, the country has signed this power-sharing deal — and al-Bashir is locked in a defendant’s cage in a Sudanese courtroom.

On Saturday, representatives of the military and civilian leadership inked the power-sharing agreement that will chart Sudan’s new political future. Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, often known as “Hemeti,” and Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan signed the agreement on behalf of the military; Ahmed al-Rabie signed on behalf of the protesters represented by the Alliance for Freedom in Change.

Foreign dignitaries, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (who helped broker the deal with the African Union) and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, also attended the signing ceremony — symbolically important, as South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 after years of civil war.

The military officials who signed the deal will be intimately involved in the new government; Al-Burhan will lead the sovereign council for the first 21 months on behalf of the military. Hemeti, his current deputy, will also serve on the council.

Hemeti, a former ally of al-Bashir, has been implicated (though not formally charged) in human rights atrocities in Darfur, and he’s the head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful paramilitary group that’s tied to brutal crackdowns on protesters, including one in early June that left at least 100 dead. The RSF has continued to use force against protesters, even after the draft power-sharing agreement was reached in July. Late last month, the RSF fired on student protesters, killing five teenagers, the youngest being just 14.

Hemeti’s continued presence in government has worried activists and experts, as he’s largely seen as having even more influence than al-Burhan. Hemeti told the BBC this week that “as responsible people we will implement all the demands that have been agreed to the letter.”

“On the face of it, the agreement is a formality,” Hemeti added, “but even if we did not have any agreement, we should implement the demands because this serves the interest of the country. We have no vested interests, therefore, we must commit to the agreement, implement and support it.”

Still, the sovereign council is set up so the military largely has control in that critical 21-month period, including over the defense and interior ministries. It also makes the possibility of real reconciliation or accountability for past atrocities — including the protester crackdown in June — difficult, despite protesters’ desire to see a truly independent investigation. Some also fear that after 21 months, the military might just refuse to cede power back to civilians.

“It’s a very tough compromise,” Sara Abdelgalil of the Sudanese Professionals Association, which helped organize the protests, told the New York Times. “We just hope that we will achieve a civilian-led government at the end of the three years. And if we fail, we will go back to the street.”

Some also objected to the lack of women in the new sovereign government. The Alliance for Freedom and Change has promised that one of its five representatives will be a woman, but none participated in the signing ceremony.

Women helped lead the months-long protests that brought down al-Bashir, often doing so despite the risks — specifically sexual violence and rape that occurred during the crackdowns. The viral image of Alaa Salah, a 22-year-old Sudanese woman and student, standing atop a car, wearing traditional Sudanese dress and rallying protesters, became a symbol of the women-led demonstrations.

“For the 1st tangible political progress of decades to exclude women is ridiculous,” Yousra Elbagir, a foreign reporter for Channel 4 News, tweeted. She added that “women were the reason that the mass pro-democracy sit-in was able to continue for nearly two months. They ran make-shift clinics, fed fasting protesters daily during Ramadan, they spent the night at check points searching female protesters.”

The signing of the power-sharing accord coincided with the start of al-Bashir’s trial for corruption. It’s a remarkable image: the ruthless dictator diminished, inside a metal cage, guarded by the people he once commanded. When asked at the start of trial to confirm his residence, the 75-year-old replied: “formerly the airport district, at army headquarters but now Kobar prison.”

Al-Bashir is facing graft charges, specifically illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner. At the trial, a detective testified that al-Bashir admitted to receiving $90 million from Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman and, before that, its now-deceased leader King Abdullah. Detectives testified to finding about $8 million in cash (in the form of euros) in his residence after the coup.

Al-Bashir’s 100-strong legal team have said the former leader is innocent and that the money doesn’t count because it was found after al-Bashir was no longer in power.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have long had ties to Sudan and have used child soldiers from the country to wage its war in Yemen. But those two countries have become even more aggressive in trying to exert their influence after the ouster of al-Bashir, closely backing the military to preserve their influence. Protesters fear attempts by the wealthy Gulf States to meddle and help suppress the democracy in Sudan, and the trial’s revelations will do little to tamp down those concerns.

Besides these brazen charges of graft against al-Bashir, many protesters want to see the former dictator held accountable for more serious crimes. Sudanese prosecutors have now opened other investigations into al-Bashir, including money laundering, financing “terrorism,” and “ordering the killing of protesters,” according to Al Jazeera, the last of which could carry the penalty of death.

But it still looks unlikely that al-Bashir will face war crimes charges for his role in carrying out genocide in Darfur. From 2003 to 2008, to fight insurgency in that region, he relied on pro-government militias — known collectively as the “Janjaweed” — who carried out heinous atrocities, burning villages and murdering civilians. (UN estimates say about 300,000 people were killed.) Al-Bashir was charged by the International Criminal Court for overseeing the genocide in Darfur, effectively making him persona non grata on the international stage.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), which is based in the Hague, Netherlands, has had arrest warrants out for al-Bashir since 2009. The court does not have any way to actually arrest suspected war criminals on its own and must instead rely on individual countries to execute any arrest warrants. After the coup, there was some hope that al-Bashir might finally be extradited, though the Sudanese military quickly quashed that idea.

Some groups, including Amnesty International, are still lobbying for Sudan to extradite al-Bashir to the Hague. And, at least for now, al-Bashir doesn’t face war crimes charges within Sudan.

Still, al-Bashir just being in a courtroom is an incredible development, given how long the authoritarian retained his grip on power and acted with impunity. His trial is also the first test for an independent judiciary under Sudan’s new government structure.

Together, the new power-sharing accord and al-Bashir’s charges represent Sudan’s nascent political transition. The country has a chance for democracy, but the process looks to be slow and very uncertain.

Al-Bashir Is on Trial in Sudan. He’s Not the First Dictator to Land in Court. – The New York Times

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the former president of Sudan, appeared in court this week, peering out through a metal defendant’s cage as his trial began.

Mr. al-Bashir, a dictator who spent more than three decades in power before being ousted in April, is facing charges of corruption and money laundering. While some celebrated the trial as a symbol of a new era for Sudan, international rights groups say Mr. al-Bashir also needs to be held accountable for human rights violations inflicted under his brutal rule.

A decade ago, the International Criminal Court indicted Mr. al-Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for attacks on civilians in the western region of Darfur. A transitional council led by the military declared that Mr. al-Bashir would never be extradited to face the charges, but it is unclear whether that will remain the case as the country seeks to move forward. The next hearing in the corruption case is set for September.

Mr. al-Bashir is far from the first head of state to be put on trial in recent times. Here are some of the most memorable.

CreditAhmed Omar/Associated Press

The strongman who ruled Egypt unchallenged for nearly 30 years, Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 at the height of the Arab Spring, when antigovernment demonstrators crowded Tahrir Square in Cairo for weeks demanding his removal. They erupted in celebration when he announced that he would hand power to a military council.

He was soon imprisoned and charged with a number of offenses, including conspiring to kill protesters and corruption. Scenes of the former leader sitting in court in the caged defendant’s box captivated the nation in the trial’s early days.

But Mr. Mubarak’s case was soon eclipsed by the ongoing tumult in Egypt, in which the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted by the military and a new autocratic leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, rose to power.

As the focus shifted, Mr. Mubarak managed to avoided prosecution on the most serious charges, the deaths of protesters in 2011. He was eventually found guilty of embezzling state funds and completed a three-year prison sentence. He was transferred to a Cairo hospital in 2015, where he remained under military guard before being quietly released in March 2017.

Mr. Mubarak, now 91, lives under guard in a chic Cairo suburb. He outlived his successor, Mr. Morsi, who collapsed and died in a Cairo courtroom in June during a trial on espionage charges.


CreditCris Bouroncle/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s ruthless 17-year rule was an era of thousands of deaths, disappearances and acts of torture in Chile, a country that is still coming to terms with his legacy. After seizing control from a democratically elected president in a 1973 coup backed by the C.I.A., General Pinochet oversaw vast purges of academics and others of liberals.

He gave up the presidency in 1990 and became the head of the army, remaining a political force in Chile through the 1990s and extending his legal immunity by becoming a “senator for life” after he stepped down as head of the army.

But the human rights violations committed during his tenure were documented by the National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, a nonpartisan group appointed by his successor that attributed at least 3,200 killings and disappearances to the general’s forces.

During a 1998 visit to Britain for back surgery, General Pinochet, then 82, was detained by the British authorities, who tried to extradite him to Spain to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity. After a legal battle, he was allowed to return to Chile 16 months later, after being deemed too ill to stand trial.

On his return to Chile, he stepped down from his political post, and a Chilean court deemed him no longer immune from prosecution, raising hopes that his victims may finally see justice. General Pinochet spent the final years of his life in seclusion, fighting off repeated criminal charges, but never standing trial. When he died in 2006 at the age of 91, he had been indicted in three human rights cases and was under investigation in dozens more.


CreditMoises Castillo/Associated Press

Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt came to power in a coup in the early 1980s, and oversaw Guatemala during one of the bloodiest periods of its decades-long civil war. Under his command, the army swept through the Mayan highlands in an attempt to flush out leftist guerrillas, committing numerous atrocities and massacres while laying waste to indigenous communities.

General Montt’s military dictatorship lasted just 17 months before he was overthrown in a coup. He later returned to government, first founding a political party and later being elected to the Guatemalan Congress.

Immune to prosecution while he served in the government, General Montt was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in January 2012 soon after he retired.

In 2013, he was found guilty in a Guatemalan court of attempting to exterminate the Ixil ethnic group and was sentenced to 80 years in prison. The ruling was seen as a landmark moment for human rights law.

But the initial ruling was soon overturned by Guatemala’s highest court, and General Montt was placed under house arrest. He died in 2018 at the age of 91, while being retried in absentia.


CreditCemil Oksuz/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

Hissène Habré ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, seizing power in a coup that was covertly aided by the United States, among other countries, who saw him as a Cold War ally.

Mr. Habré was eventually deposed by the current president, Idriss Déby, and fled to Senegal, where he lived in comfortable exile for more than 20 years. A truth commission overseen by his successor found that Mr. Habré’s government killed more than 40,000 people and tortured an additional 200,000.

A campaign to hold him accountable would take more than two decades. In 2000, a Senegalese court charged him with human rights abuses, but later ruled it did not have the authority to try him. A Belgian court issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Habré in 2005, but Senegal refused to extradite him. The African Union determined in 2006 that a special court would be created in Senegal to hear the case.

The trial did not begin until 2015. After seven months and testimony from 93 witnesses, Mr. Habré was found guilty of crimes against humanity, torture and sex crimes, and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2017, a court upheld the conviction. A $136 million trust fund, to be handled by the African Union, was established to aid thousands of victims of his brutal rule. Mr. Habré, now 77, is currently serving his sentence in a prison in Senegal.