Decline and fall of the men who tyrannised Africa

Mobutu leaves Swiss hide-out
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The Independent Online
The Zairean dictator, General Mobutu Sese Seko, pictured right, arrived in Nice yesterday after hours of speculation about whether he would leave Switzerland, where he has been recovering from an operation, and if he did, whether he would be allowed into France.

Although Mr Mobutu, who is 66, owns a villa on the Riviera near Monaco and a flat in Paris, he has, in effect, been persona non grata in France since 1994, though there have been clues this year that he has mended his relationship with President Jacques Chirac.

He was said to have looked tired when he left his hotel for Geneva airport. Hotel staff made a point of saying that he settled his bill.

The Zairean leader, who has been in power for 31 years, had been in Switzerland since August, where he was being treated for prostate cancer.

He had been operated on at the Lausanne University hospital before retreating to the luxury of the Beau-Rivage hotel, where he was said to hold extravagant court, but it is believed that he has stayed on in Switzerland because it was diplomatically convenient. If he returns to Zaire he faces severe difficulties in restoring order to the country.