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A Crowded Departure Lounge

Dec. 29, 2003

Don't tell the President, but it seems to be catching. Ever since "regime change" became reality in the spring, world leaders have been dropping from their perches. While one crawled out of a spider hole, others crawled in; some retired and some were retired. A look at the major departures of the year, and some of their more memorable exit lines.

Charles Taylor FORCED TO RESIGN Liberia's brutal leader finally agreed to go on Aug. 11, as rebels closed in. Fighting abated and tension eased. "God willing, I'll be back."
Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada FORCED TO RESIGN Grave economic failure ended his second term as Bolivia's ruler on Oct. 17. "The dangers ... continue intact."
Mahathir Mohamad RETIRED Before he left on Oct. 31, Malaysia's leader got in hot water for anti-Semitic comments. "I just want to take a rest."
Eduard Shevardnadze FORCED TO RESIGN All-night dancing broke out in Georgia after his Nov. 24 resignation. "I have a lot to do, a lot to write."
Jean Chretien RETIRED After 10 years in office, Canada's PM stepped down on Dec. 12. "I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand."