Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Position: President, Algeria

Biography: Algeria’s ailing 76-year-old president faces re-election in April, but uncertainty about his health raises questions about his candidacy. His 80-day recuperation this summer from a mini-stroke was cloaked in secrecy, leaving the public and government agencies to speculate on his return and the effects of a potential leadership vacuum.

While his party, the National Liberation Front, recently endorsed his candidacy for an unprecedented fourth term, he faces a stiff challenge from the powerful chief of Algeria’s intelligence service, Mohamed Mediene. In September, Bouteflika took the surprising step of shaking up key ministries in what opposition groups called a blatant power grab ahead of the elections.

Among the moves was the addition of 10 new ministers, all of whom were close allies. In an even bolder move, he took away key powers from the Department of Intelligence and Security, which is the country’s military spy agency.