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At 93rd birthday bash, Robert Mugabe says hewon’t quit

Zimbabwe’s PresidentRobert Mugabehas marked his 93rd birthday with lavish celebrations, addressing his own mortality in a speech, but showing no signs of quitting politics.Thousands of government supporters, some wearing clothing adorned with Mugabe’s imagein younger days,converged in Matabeleland for Saturday’s birthday bash and show of strength for the ruling ZANU-PF party.Also wearing a multi-coloured suit emblazonedwith his own image and dark glasses, Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, told the crowd he had no intention of stepping down.”People who arebusy forming their own groupings saying ‘Mr Mugabe must go’. I ask myself where should I go?” Mugabe, who has been inpower for 37 years, said in a speech that wasbroadcast on state radio and television.Speaking for over an hour, Mugabe said he would not impose his successor and that if ZANU-PF party felt he should retire, it would hold an extraordinary congress to choose a new leader.”Others are saying ‘President, choose a successor before you retire’. Is that not imposition? Me imposing someone on the party? No, I don’twant that,” Mugabe said.”This is an issue for the congressto choose. We can have an extraordinary congress if the president retires, but you said I should be your candidate in the next election.”His hands gripping the podium, Mugabespoke slowly. He said that at times he felt alone, but that he has a”mission” and”mandate” asZimbabwe’s leader and appealed for theruling party to overcome its divisions.”It’s not always easy to predict that, although you are alive this year, you will be alive nextyear,” he said.”It does not matter how healthy you might feel. The decision that you continue to live and enjoy life is that of onepersonality we call the Almighty God.”

Updated: February 26, 2017 — 4:24 pm

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