The Worst Modern Rulers

A ruler of a country has a tremendous responsibility. He or she is responsible for millions of people’s welfare. But in many places around the world, leaders do not work for the good of their people. Instead they are working for their own benefit. There are cases where the ruler was so bad that a country becomes more miserable under his rule. Here are some of the worst rulers in modern history:

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe

Mugabe is the leader of Zimbabwe. He has the distinction of bringing his once prosperous country into financial ruin. Mugabe was one of the leaders of the movement that was fighting white minority rule in what was then Rhodesia and he was the first black ruler of the country.

Rise to Power

Mugabe played a key role in the movement that was fighting the white minority rule in Rhodesia. He became the Prime Minister in 1980. By 1987,the position of Prime Minister was abolished and Mugabe became the President with more powers than before.

Becoming a Dictator

As the years passed by, Mugabe started to show his tendencies for authoritarian rule. He is accused of instigating genocide against ethnic groups that did not support him. Hundreds of thousands are believed to have been killed under his regime simply because they did not agree with him. The economy of Zimbabwe has taken a turn for the worse, after Mugabe’s takeover. In the first years of his rule, the economy managed to grow, but as years passed by, things went from bad to worse.

Zimbabwe came from being one of the most prosperous countries in Africa to one of the poorest in the world. Inflation has gone uncontrolled in the country and the currency is almost worthless. On the face of poverty and hardships faced by ordinary people in Zimbabwe, Mugabe is charged with corruption and of enriching himself at the expense of the country. His wife is accused of going out on shopping sprees in Europe.

Muammar Qaddafi of Libya

Muammar Qaddafi started out as an officer in the Libyan army. As a colonel in 1969 he staged a coup that deposed of the country’s monarch. In the early days of his rule he won support for nationalist rhetoric and socialism. But things changed when he went on to become one of the worst dictators in the history of the world.

Qaddafi aimed reorient Libya away from Western influences towards Africa and the Arab world. He also supported terrorist activities in other countries and openly or secretly supported insurgents in countries around the world. He was able to control Libya completely and he appointed only people that he can trust in key positions of the government.


As years passed by Qaddafi became more erratic and his rule was characterized by almost irrational behaviour. He started dressing in a weird way and he had a cadre of female bodyguards who were all supposed to be virgins. He involved the military establishment of Libya in conflicts around the world and was largely able to get away with it because of the large revenues generated by Libyan oil. Unfortunately for the Libyan people, little of the money generated by the oil was spent on their welfare.


Qaddafi managed to be a thorn on the side of several American presidents, but what eventually caused his downfall was his people’s dissatisfaction with the way that he ruled. In 2011 rebellion against Qaddafi’s rule broke out in Libya and soon most of the country was in the hands of the rebels. NATO openly supported the opposition and even sent air strikes against Qaddafi’s military.

Qaddafi tried to escape from the rebel forces but he was captured near his hometown. He was soon killed and it is unclear on how he died. Some accounts say that he was caught in crossfire but others claim that he was executed by the rebels.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is a small country in West Africa. It would have remained unremarkable if it was not for the fact that oil was soon discovered there in 1995. The oil in the country gave rise to the annual per capita income of the people there but the problem is that little of that money is being spent on public welfare. Most of it is going to the bank account of Teodoro Obiang Nguema their president.

Nguema has acquired an enormous wealth because of his country’s oil resources. Equatorial Guinea remains backward with almost no infrastructure to help boost its economy. Public health spending is o small it remains insignificant. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is the president’s son and serves as the country’s minister of agriculture has been accused of using the country’s wealth in order to live a lavish lifestyle in the West. He has been resisting attempts of the United States government to seize his property which is believed to be illegally acquired.

Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan

Sudan is Africa’s largest country and it holds vast oil reserves. With its resources, it should be doing fine, but because it is held back by wars and a crippling dictatorship, the country has not been able to realize its full potential. Omar Al-Bashir is the country’s ruler. He came to power in 1989 in a coup attempt when he was a brigadier in the Sudanese army.

Sudan has been wracked by a Civil War that has been one of the longest and one of the bloodiest in the world since World War Two but a peace agreement has been signed and . Fighting broke out in Darfur along ethnic lines and Omar Al-Bashir’s government has been accused of genocide, with the death count running into the hundreds of thousands.

Omar Al-Bashir has also had a history of harbouring terrorists, but with a twist. He would harbour terrorists and then hand them over to Western governments in exchange for aid. That is what he did with Carlos the Jackal when he handed him over to the French government. He also tried to pull off the same stunt with Osama bin-Laden but failed.

Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan

When it comes to personality cults, Saparmurat Niyazov is right there at the top. The leader of Turkmenistan has managed to build a personality cult in his country that could rival those of the most infamous figures in history. Turkmenistan is a country in the former Soviet Union and Saparmurat Niyazov was able to grab power right after the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

Niyazov’s face appears on the currency of his country and his statues are all over the place. But those are nothing. Any fly-by-night dictator would do those things. Niyazov takes things a step further. He renamed the month of January after himself. He also decreed that the book which he wrote should be required reading on all the schools in the country. Civil servants are required to memorize parts of the book if they want to keep their jobs. He has been cracking down on ethnic minorities and religions.

Niyazov is so crazy that he tried to build an Ice Palace in his country. That might not sound so crazy since dictators are building palaces all of the time but you have to remember that the country is mostly desert.

King Mswati III of Swaziland

King Mswati III is the last absolute monarch in Africa. He took over when he was 18 making him the youngest ruler of a country in the world at that time. Mswati was educated in the United Kingdom, so it was believed that he would be introducing reforms to the country once he takes over. It was soon evident however that he had no such plans in mind.

Political parties are banned in the country and it remains as backward as ever. Despite his western education Mswati has shown that he prefers some African traditions.

Fidel Castro of Cuba

Castro was the world’s longest ruling dictator. He seized power back in 1959 after a romantic revolution that captured the world’s imagination. But the fascination soon faded away when it became evident that Castro was not interested in ensuring the liberties of the Cuban people. He, together with a handful of his followers together with his brother Raul have ruled the country ever since. Political opposition has never been tolerated.

Cuba was a major ally of the Soviet Union and because of its closeness to the United States, it was seen as a strategic place. It has remained to be a problem for successive American regimes until the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

Kim Jong-Il of North Korea

Kim Jong-Il father of North Korea’s current ruler, took power in 1998. The family has built a cult of personality that is unequalled in the history of the world. Superhuman and fantastic achievements are regularly attributed to them. North Korea is the most secretive country in the world today and political opposition is absolutely not tolerated there.

These are the world’s worst leaders in recent history. Unfortunately for many countries today, bad leaders are still at the helm.