FACTBOX: Sarkozy joins small list of divorced leaders

Thu Oct 18, 2007 2:57pm EDT

(Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy has divorced his wife Cecilia, his office said on Thursday.

It is rare for world leaders to get separated while they are in office, but not unheard of. Here are some recent separations by heads of state and government.

SOUTH AFRICA

Nelson Mandela divorced his wife Winnie in March 1996, while still president, after a brutal court battle in which he accused her of cheating on him and causing him anguish. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela later said her marriage to him was a sham and the birth of their two daughters "quite coincidental".

ARGENTINA

Argentine President Carlos Menem separated from his wife Zulema Yoma shortly after his 1989 election victory, locking her out of the presidential residence. They later divorced.

GREECE

Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, who abolished adultery as a crime in Greece, won a divorce in 1989 freeing him to wed his mistress, an air stewardess more than 30 years his junior.

VENEZUELA

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez separated from his second wife, journalist Marisabel Rodriguez, in June 2002 while he was in office and they divorced several months later. She said Venezuela's turbulent politics played a part in their split but that personality issues were also a major factor.

President Jaime Lusinchi separated from his wife Gladys in 1987 while he was still in office in order to marry his former private secretary Blanca Ibanez, setting off a national scandal. The divorce was not finalized until 1991 after he left power.

PERU

President Alberto Fujimori locked his wife Susana Higuchi out of the presidential palace in 1995 and filed for divorce on the grounds of "severe slander". She had accused him of corruption.

AUSTRIA

President Thomas Klestil divorced his wife in 1998 after 41 years of marriage. The couple had lived apart since 1994 when Klestil's affair with a much younger aide prompted his wife Edith to walk out.

SWEDEN

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson filed for divorce from his wife Annika in 2002 after 7 years of marriage. The story made few headlines at home or abroad.

TUNISIA

Former Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba divorced and banished his second wife, Wassila Ben Ammar, when still in power in 1986. In a presidential communique he said he was divorcing her for violating the constitution by making political statements without his knowledge or approval.

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