Ten ways to spot if your leader is going Loco

Phil Davison
Saturday 08 February 1997 00:02 GMT

Exasperated by President Abdala Bucaram's erratic behaviour and political stunts while the country slid deeper into economic stagnation, Ecuador's Congress voted on Thursday night to remove the President for "mental incapacity".

Yesterday, Mr Bucaram, who took office only six months ago, remained barricaded in the national palace, refusing to hand over the reins of power. Protesters demanding that he quit took to the streets of Quito and joined battle with riot police. The Defence Minister, Victor Bayas, declared a nationwide state of emergency.

As Mr Bucaram contemplates his next move, he might reflect on how he could have avoided this fate:

1) Do not call yourself "El Loco" (the Madman). It may sound quaint for your election campaign but it just might stick.

2) Do not admit that one of your favourite books is Mein Kampf. And if you are known for your Hitler-style moustache, do not shave it off on television, even to raise money for charity. And if your brother's name is Adolfo and he also wears a Hitler moustache, do not appoint him minister of social welfare.

3) If you campaign as a populist superhero do not raise gas, electricity and fuel prices by 300 per cent five months later.

4) If you appoint an old buddy to the key job of energy minister, discourage him from telling a leading magazine: "I would like to have lived in the caveman era, walking around with no clothes. Then if I liked a woman, I could grab her by the hair and drag her off to my cave and eat her. That way, I would satisfy my sexual appetite and my biological appetite."

5) If your son is only 18 but already running the country's customs service, do not let him throw a party to celebrate his first million dollars. And do not buy him a red Porsche or fly him to Miami on the presidential jet at public expense.

6) Do not invite Lorena Bobbitt for lunch at the presidential palace and fete her as a leading defender of women's rights. Men vote too, you know.

7) If your nation is paralysed by a general strike in protest against you, do not declare it a national holiday "so public workers can join in the fun".

8) If you must cut a compact disc called Madman in Love and belt out "Jailhouse Rock" in your own language at a rock concert, do not pour a bottle of Perrier over your head to cool off. Real rockers use beer.

9) If you insult one of your predecessors by calling him a donkey, and are then forced by public outcry to apologise, do not say "I apologise to all donkeys".

10) If you must buy your way in as chairman of a first-division football side, and the poor are rioting in the streets, do not announce that you are going to sign Diego Maradona and pay him one million dollars for his first game.

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