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Heads Of State

March 24, 2009 | Associated Press
Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought a nationalist religious party into what is shaping up to be a narrow, hawkish coalition, taking a major step Monday toward securing the parliamentary majority he needs to form a government. As Netanyahu wrapped up the deal with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, he also launched formal talks with the centrist Labor Party in hopes of moderating his emerging government.
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 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.
December 14, 2008 | Robyn Dixon, Dixon is a Times staff writer.
For a very literal example of Robert Mugabe's staying power, look no further than a recent crisis summit of southern African leaders designed to settle the political impasse that has seen the longtime Zimbabwean leader stubbornly cling to the presidency. The leaders wanted him to leave the room so they could deliberate in private. He refused. Between their misguided politeness and his famous capacity to intimidate, the presidents meekly backed down. Mugabe stayed. Be it with his fellow African leaders, the West or the Zimbabwean opposition, the 84-year-old Mugabe has outmaneuvered -- and outlasted -- his critics for more than a quarter of a century, through a careful calibration of the international reaction to and domestic effect of his actions.
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.
September 19, 2008 | Paul Richter
Some Spaniards are wondering whether John McCain has turned cool toward their prime minister -- or maybe can't remember him -- after confusing comments by the Republican presidential candidate. McCain was asked in an interview in Miami whether as president he would meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a socialist who was snubbed by President Bush after he withdrew Spain's troops from Iraq in 2004.
September 17, 2008 | Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff Writer
Members of Israel's ruling party head for the polls today to elect a new leader, pitting a top peace negotiator against a tough-talking former general in a race that could have profound implications for the future of the nation's political center. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has pledged to resign in the face of mounting corruption charges once the new Kadima party leader is elected.
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.
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