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More coups, please

Poor nations will remain trapped until their bad leaders shape up. Letting a few topple would help

By Paul Collier   April 2009

In my book The Bottom Billion (2007), I argued that a number of traps had caught 1bn people in some 60 countries in extreme poverty. One trap was violent conflict, especially civil wars. Another was poor governance: in many of these countries, government was not performing the essential functions of the state. But both are about political power.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, many of these 60 countries have adopted democracy. Autocratic leaders such as Zambia’s President Kaunda and, later, Daniel arap Moi in Kenya and Robert Mugabe in Zimbawe, were forced to introduce competitive elections, a move…

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