Cancer That Killed Dictatorship Kills Mobutu

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RABAT: The prostate cancer that killed Mobutu Sese Seko here Sunday night was the one that sounded the death knell for his Zairean dictatorship, according to TIME Nairobi correspondent Peter Graff. "In the last year, he became physically sick, incapable of functioning as a leader ... That's when his people began to say things about Mobutu they never dared say before, and when his own army refused to fight for him. It was his sickness that did it. He ruled for 32 years and was ousted in seven months."

Soon after Mobutu was ousted, Graff recalls walking through the leader's house during his final days and finding it filled with potions and herbs used in traditional African rituals. "He was trying to save his rule and save his life by relying on the supernatural," says Graff, "but, in the end, he lost both."