Cover Story

Follow the leaders: Democracy's difficult path

Issue: "Beginning of the end," March 29, 2003

Algeria Government: Republic. Elections: Every five years. Head: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika took power after his party annulled elections that favored the Islamic Salvation Front; he was elected in 1999 after six opposition candidates withdrew, citing fraud. Bahrain Government: Constitutional monarchy. Elections: First national election, 2002. Head: Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa inherited power in 1999 upon his father's death, dubbing himself King Hamad. As crown prince he oversaw the search and rescue operation that saved 200 U.S. sailors when the USS Stark came under attack in 1987. Schooled in Kansas, he is regarded by some observers as America's best friend in the Gulf. Djibouti Government: Republic. Elections: 1999, every six years. Head: President Ismail Omar Gelleh, since 1999. Egypt Government: Republic. Elections: Last referendum Sept. 26, 1999; People's Assembly nominates for a six-year term the president, who must then be validated by national, popular referendum. Head: President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, since 1981. Iraq Government: Republic. Elections: Last election Oct. 17, 1995; president and vice presidents selected by two-thirds majority of the Revolutionary Command Council. Last presidential referendum: Oct. 15, 2002, which resulted in Saddam Hussein's winning 99 percent of the vote. Head: President Saddam Hussein, since 1979. Jordan Government: Constitutional monarchy. Elections: None. Head: King Abdullah II, since 1999. Kuwait Government: Constitutional monarchy. Elections: Parliamentary elections only. Head: Emir Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah, since 1977. Lebanon Government: Republic. Elections: President selected by National Assembly for six-year term; last election in 1998. Head: President Emile Lahud, since 1998. Some experts say Lebanon is the Middle East's most democratic state; others claim its rulers serve at whim of Syria, whose military occupies central Lebanon. Libya Government: Jamahiriya ("a state of the masses"); in reality, a military dictatorship. Elections: One-man election in 2000. Head: Col. Muammar Qadhafi, since 1969. Mauritania Government: Republic. Elections: President elected for a six-year term, last election 1997. Head: President Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya, since 1984. Morocco Government: Constitutional monarchy. Elections: None. Head: King Mohammed VI, since 1999. Oman Government: Monarchy. Elections: None. Head: Sultan and Prime Minister Qaboos bin Said Al Said, since 1970. Palestine (Arab League member though not organized state) Government: Administered under the Palestinian Authority, established in 1994, with increasingly limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Elections: For Palestinian Legislative Council, 1996. Head: President Yasser Arafat, officially elected 1996, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization since 1968; personal net worth: $300 million. Qatar Government: Traditional monarchy. Elections: First municipal elections in 1999. Head: Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani deposed his father in 1995; launched the region's first satellite television station, Al-Jazeera; allows his wife to speak in public sans veil. Saudi Arabia Government: Monarchy. Elections: None. Head: King and Prime Minister Fahd bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud since 1982, but after a 1995 stroke, he turned over most duties to half-brother Prince Abdullah. Somalia Government: Transitional, parliamentary national government. Head: President Abdikassim Salad Hassan since 2000, chosen by a transitional National Assembly for a three-year term. Sudan Government: Authoritarian rule by military junta that took power in 1989; government run by an alliance of the military and the National Congress Party, formerly the National Islamic Front. Elections: Unopposed presidential every five years, last held 2000. Head: President Lt. Gen. Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, since 1993. Syria Government: Republic under military regime since March 1963. Elections: President elected for seven-year term, last election July 10, 2000. Head: President Bashar al-Asad, since July 17, 2000. Tunisia Government: Republic. Elections: President elected for five-year term, unopposed; Islamic fundamentalist party outlawed but other opposition parties allowed in one-house legislature; last election 1999. Head: President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, since 1987. United Arab Emirates Government: Federation with some powers divided between the UAE federal government and individual member emirates. Elections: President and vice-president elected by the Federal Supreme Council, a group of electors, for five-year terms; last election 2001. Head: President Zayid bin Sultan Al Nuhayyan, since 1971. Yemen Government: Republic. Elections: President elected for seven-year term, last election 1999. Head: President Field Marshall Ali Abdullah Salih, since 1990.

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