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Heads Of State

WORLD
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.
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WORLD
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.
WORLD
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.
WORLD
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.
WORLD
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.
WORLD
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.
WORLD
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.
WORLD
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.
WORLD
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.
NATIONAL
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.
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