Africa south of Sahara boasts dictators and wide political freedom
Angola: First multiparty elections in 1992 declared free and fair, but ended in resumed civil war after UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi rejected his defeat. Fighting continues.
Benin: Benin has made a strong transition from dictatorship to pluralism. In elections earlier this year, Nicephore Soglo was voted out of office after five years, and Mathieu Kerekou was reinstated.
Botswana: Africa's most stable democracy, helped by relative prosperity.
Burkina Faso: Superficially democratic, but there is widespread criticism of President Blaise Compaore's thwarting of political openness. General elections due in January-February 1997.
Burundi: Hutus and Tutsis fighting in Africa's bloodiest current conflict. A July coup installed Pierre Buyoya as self-proclaimed "president."
Cameroon: President Paul Biya reelected in 1992. Municipal elections due in 1997.
Cape Verde Islands: Multiparty elections brought opposition to power in 1991 after 16 years of one-party rule.
Central African Republic: President Agne-Felix Patasse was elected in 1993. In May, France sent troops in to put down revolt by mutinous soldiers.
Chad: President Idris Deby, who came to power in a December 1990 coup, won July 3 elections.
Comoro Islands: Failed coup attempt in September 1995. French intervened. Presidential elections earlier this year went smoothly. Parliamentary elections due Oct. 6.
Congo: Multiparty elections in 1993 thwarted by serious irregularities. Presidential election due in July-August 1997.
Djibouti: French military presence. Cease-fire signed in December with Afar rebels.
Equatorial Guinea: President Teodoro Obiang said he won more than 90 percent of a February vote that was boycotted and called a farce by the opposition.
Ethiopia: Opposition boycotted May 1995 elections in which ruling EPRDF won more than 90 percent of parliamentary seats.
Eritrea: Africa's youngest state declared independence in 1993. No sign of elections yet.
Gabon: Local elections due Sept. 28.
Gambia: Yahya Jammeh came to power in a bloodless military coup in 1994. Presidential election is due in September, legislative elections in December.
Ghana: President Jerry Rawlings, who seized power in 1979 coup, was elected in 1992 to legitimize the government for international donors. Election set for December.
Guinea: In January, soldiers held the capital; President Lansana Conte accuses them of trying to overthrow him.
Guinea-Bissau: President "Nino" Vieira, in power since 1980 coup, narrowly won the first multiparty election in August 1994.
Ivory Coast: October 1995 presidential elections were won by Henri Konan Bedie, whose government has shown little tolerance for opposition and press freedom.
Kenya: President Daniel arap Moi could declare elections this year or next. His government stymies the opposition, headed by Richard Leakey.
Lesotho: A palace coup was overturned in 1994 following elections. Succession following King Moshoeshoe II, who died in January, has been smooth.
Liberia: Chaos. Regional peacekeepers unable to maintain order among militias.
Madagascar: President Albert Zafy won elections last year after changing the Constitution to remove his premier.
Malawi: Elections in 1994 overturned dictatorship of Hastings Kamuzu Banda and installed Bakili Muluzi. Local elections set for September.
Mali: One of French Africa's thriving democracies. Local elections due in November-December 1996, legislative elections in February 1997, and presidential elections in April 1997.
Mauritius: Strong economic growth undergirds this island state's vibrant democracy. December 1995 elections were considered free and fair. Parliamentary vote due September.
Mozambique: FRELIMO party has ruled since independence from Portugal in 1975. Multiparty elections in 1994. The former rebel group RENAMO lacks funds to be a viable opposition.
Namibia: SWAPO party, which has ruled since independence, is entrenched more firmly after 1994 elections. A de facto one-party state.
Niger: Opposition criticized July 8 vote, saying Ibrahim Bare Mainassara held ill-prepared elections. Mainassara took power in Jan. 27 coup.
Nigeria: Military dictatorship more entrenched after local elections earlier this year.
Rwanda: Still reeling from genocide of up to 1 million people in 1994.
Sao Tome and Principe: Elections in 1991 brought pluralism to tiny island state. Government of President Miguel Trovoada was rocked by aborted coup attempt in August 1995. Trovoada reelected in July.
Senegal: A long multiparty tradition. Regional elections due in October-November.
Seychelles: A tourist island state that boasts a representative government established by relatively open multiparty general elections in 1993 after 13 years of one-party rule.
Sierra Leone: Military coup in January did not prevent elections in February.
Somalia: No recognized government. Death of leading strongman Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed adds to chaos.
South Africa: Africa's showcase democracy. Elections in April 1994 ended whites-only rule. Local elections held this year in KwaZulu-Natal Province came off peacefully.
Sudan: Political parties were banned from March election, the first since 1989 coup that brought in Islamic fundamentalists. Civil war continues.
Swaziland: Africa's only absolute monarchy resists calls for democratic reforms.
Tanzania: Opposition groups, particularly on Zanzibar island, claimed fraud during October 1995 elections.
Togo: Held multiparty elections in 1994.
Uganda: President Yoweri Museveni, in power for 10 years, won May election. Doesn't believe in sharing power with other parties, but his pragmatic economic policy has brought stability.
Zaire: Political and economic chaos under the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko. Elections promised for 1997.
Zambia: Elections due in October. But President Frederick Chiluba has disqualified as candidates most opponents, including ex-President Kenneth Kaunda.
Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe won an election in March. In power since 1980. His ZANU party has quashed opposition via intimidation and monopoly on campaign funds. ZANU holds 98 percent of parliamentary seats.