To outward appearances, most of Africa was politically transformed in the early 1990s, as military dictatorships and one-party states almost universally gave way to multiparty systems of democracy. A number of factors, both internal and external, combined to bring this about. The most important external factor was the ending of the Cold War between capitalist West and communist East, as most dramatically symbolised by the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Africa was no longer a tropical playing field for global strategic power games. Corrupt and ineffective governments or longstanding dictators, such as Siad Barre of Somalia (1969–91) or Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (1965–97) were no longer supported with external funds or arms supplies simply because they declared themselves to be anti-communist or anti-capitalist.
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