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Military dictatorship

A military dictatorship is a form of government wherein the political power resides within the military; it is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, i.e., a state ruled directly by the military. Like all dictatorships, a military dictatorship may be official or unofficial, and as a result may not actually qualify as stratocratic (some military dictators, like Manuel Noriega, are nominally subordinate to the civil government).

The stereotypical military dictatorship is ruled by a junta (derived from a Spanish word which can be translated as "conference" or "board"), or a committee composed of the military's most senior leadership. Other military dictatorships are entirely in the hands of a single officer, most often the senior army commander. In either case, the chairman of the junta or the single commander may often personally assume office as head of state.

Most military dictatorships are formed after a coup d'état. In the past, military juntas have justified their rule as a way of bringing political stability for the nation or rescuing it from the threat of dangerous ideologies. Military regimes tend to portray themselves as non-partisan, and a "neutral" party that can provide interim leadership in times of turmoil, and also tend to portray civilian politicians as corrupt and ineffective. In practice, however, military regimes can often be quite brutal, staying in power for long periods of time and committing many human rights abuses.

Military dictatorships can be contrasted with other forms of dictatorship. In most current and historical communist states, the center of power exists in civilian party officials, and very careful measures such as political officers and frequent rotations are taken to prevent the military from exercising independent authority.

Since the 1990s, military dictatorships have become less common. Reasons for this include the fact that military dictatorships no longer have much international legitimacy, as well as the fact that many militaries having unsuccessfully ruled many nations are now inclined not to become involved in political disputes.

Nations currently under military rule:

Nations with legacies of military dictatorships: See also: police state, dictator, The Generals