Robert Mugabe has been the leader of Zimbabwe for the three decades of its independence.
He was a key figure in the struggle for independence, which involved a bitter bush war against a white minority which had cut the country loose from the colonial power Britain.
When he was first elected in 1980 he was praised for reaching out to the white minority and his political rivals, as well as for what was considered a pragmatic approach to the economy.
However, he soon expelled from his government of national unity the party whose stronghold was in the south of the country and launched an anti-opposition campaign in which thousands died.
In the mid-1990s he embarked on a programme of land redistribution, in which commercial farmers were driven off the land by mobs. The programme was accompanied by a steady decline in the economy.
As the opposition to his rule increased, he and his ruling Zanu-PF party grew more determined to stay in power. Critics accuse him of heading a military regime.
In the elections of 2008, Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mr Mugabe in the presidential vote but with insufficient votes to avoid a run-off.
Mr Mugabe was sworn in for another term in June 2008 after a widely-condemned run-off vote from which Mr Tsvangirai withdrew because of attacks on his supporters.
Under international pressure, Mr Mugabe agreed a power-sharing deal with Mr Tsvangirai, who was made prime minister.
However, Mr Mugabe made no secret of his distaste for the arrangement and Mr Tsvangirai complained of a lack of co-operation and a return of violence against his party's supporters.
After years of wrangling, the two parties in early 2013 agreed on a new constitution, which was overwhelmingly approved at a referendum in March.
It curbs the president's powers, sets a two-term limit for the office, abolishes the post of prime minister, creates elected provincial legislatures and establishes a constitutional court.
Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai competed for the presidency in elections in July 2013. Mr Mugabe officially gained 61% of the vote against 34% for Mr Tsvangirai and in August was sworn in for a seventh term in office. His Zanu-PF party clinched a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary vote. Mr Tsvangirai dismissed the polls as fraudulent.
Ideologically, Mr Mugabe belongs to the African liberationist tradition of the 1960s - strong and ruthless leadership, anti-Western, suspicious of capitalism and deeply intolerant of dissent and opposition.