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Heads Of State

March 9, 2009 | TIMES WIRE REPORTS
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, injured in a car crash that killed his wife, has left Zimbabwe for medical treatment in Botswana. Tsvangirai spent months in Botswana last year, fearing for his life at the height of a standoff with President Robert Mugabe -- the man with whom he formed a joint government last month. Tsvangirai arrived in Botswana on Saturday, a day after the crash, according to a spokesman for Botswana's Foreign Ministry. Botswana President Seretse Khama has been one of the few African leaders to openly criticize Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and is accused of destroying its economy and trampling on human rights.
January 20, 2009 | Chris Kraul
A succession of violent incidents in Venezuela, including the armed takeover of the Caracas city hall, point to an ugly campaign ahead of a Feb. 15 vote that could lift term limits on President Hugo Chavez. A group of 40 armed men who said they were Chavez supporters were still in control of city hall Monday evening, two days after they forced their way in, handcuffed two security officers and declared the building "recovered for the revolution," a mayoral spokesman said.
December 23, 2008 | Times Wire Reports
President Lansana Conte, who ruled the African nation of Guinea with an iron hand since seizing power in a 1984 coup, has died after a lengthy illness, the National Assembly president said today. Aboubacar Sompare, flanked by the country's prime minister and the head of the army, said on state-run television that Conte died Monday evening. He was believed to be in his 70s. According to the constitution, the head of the National Assembly becomes president if the head of state dies.
December 14, 2008 | Associated Press
Raul Castro on Saturday began his first international trip as Cuba's president with a visit to Venezuela, a symbolic choice aimed at strengthening ties with the island's socialist ally and main benefactor. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has long been a close ally of Raul Castro's older brother Fidel Castro, who in February ceded power to Raul because of illness. Chavez's support for Cuba's communist government and his fierce criticism of U.S. policy have irritated officials in Washington.
November 7, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Italy's famously impolitic Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi described U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday as "young, handsome and even tanned." Berlusconi appeared to be joking about America's first black president at a news conference after talks with Russia's president. It wasn't the only perhaps unwelcome comment about Obama's victory. In a rare conciliatory gesture, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a letter of congratulations.
September 29, 2008 | Henry Chu, Times Staff Writer
Only a year ago, Asif Ali Zardari was best known as the husband of Benazir Bhutto, a highflying businessman with a taste for fine living, polo and, his critics allege, bribes. He was a man who spent 11 years in jail while awaiting trial on unproven corruption charges, the stress of which, according to court papers filed by doctors last year and viewed by a British newspaper, induced bouts of dementia and depression. Today, Zardari is the leader of this nuclear-armed country, a nation crucial to the security of the United States but one beset by an internal crisis whose outcome could, some say, determine whether Pakistan stands or falls as a modern Muslim state.
August 23, 2008 | Mubashir Zaidi and Laura King, Special to The Times
The senior party in Pakistan's ruling coalition inaugurated a push Friday to elect its leader, Asif Ali Zardari, as the country's next president. A spokeswoman for the Pakistan People's Party, Sherry Rehman, said the party's decision to back Zardari was unanimous. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 military coup, resigned as president Monday rather than face impeachment. Zardari, who took over the People's Party after his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated in December, is a divisive figure in Pakistan.
July 31, 2008 | From Times Wire Reports
Paraguayan President-elect Fernando Lugo has received unprecedented permission from the pope to resign as bishop, Papal Nuncio Orlando Antonini said. Church officials earlier insisted that Lugo, 57, would always be a bishop under church law. Lugo made history in April with his presidential election victory, which ended the 61-year rule of the Colorado Party. The former "bishop of the poor" takes office Aug. 15. Church rules bar priests from political office.
July 26, 2008 | Paul Richter, Times Staff Writer
Barack Obama's electoral rival is John McCain, but Obama's overseas trip this week has given heartburn to another Republican -- President Bush. In stop after stop across the Middle East and Europe, Obama was embraced as the man whose promise of change meant a change from Bush: on Iraq, Mideast peace, the treatment of terrorism suspects, climate change, alliance relations and more. The tour has brought into focus how world leaders already are positioning themselves for a new American president.
July 19, 2008 | From Times Wire Reports
President Alvaro Uribe has scrapped his plan to rerun the 2006 election in which he was reelected, the government said, a move that could set the stage for him to seek a third term in 2010. Uribe said last month that he would try to repeat the vote after the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional amendment that allowed him to run for and win a second term was tainted by corruption. He has now dropped that plan. Uribe's popularity shot up to 91% after this month's dramatic rescue of 15 rebel-held hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.
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