Thursday, December 15, 2016

92-year-old Mugabe to stand in 2018 Zimbabwe election

Zimbabwe's ruling party says the country's 92-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, is certain to be endorsed as the party's presidential candidate for elections in 2018.

Ignatius Chombo, secretary for administration of the ZANU-PF party, said Wednesday that Mugabe will get the endorsement at the party's annual conference this week.

Chombo says Mugabe brings 'wisdom and unity' to his leadership of Zimbabwe, which is struggling with a dire economic situation that has prompted periodic protests against the government.

Mugabe, who has ruled this southern African country since independence from white minority rule in 1980, won elections in 2013 despite allegations of voting irregularities. He turns 93 in February.

Mugabe previously said he wants to rule until he dies, although he said he is open to retirement if asked by his party.

His age and frequent rumours about his health have stoked a scramble in ZANU-PF over who should eventually succeed Mugabe.

Looking frail and labouring through a 40-minute speech, Mugabe condemned what he called 'dirty politics' in the party during an address to the ZANU-PF Central Committee ahead of a two-day annual conference starting on Friday.

'There is nothing wrong in expressing an ambition, an aspiration, aspiring for position in leadership or for any other higher post in the party,' Mugabe said.

'But I have, however, frowned upon shameless and unbridled ambition, which seeks to ride roughshod over others. The tradition of our party is never one of bickering over party positions.'

One faction is widely believed to be manoeuvring to impose Mugabe's wife Grace as a successor, another backs Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has the support of war veterans.

Political analysts say Mugabe has manipulated politics to set himself up as a president for life and fear instability if he dies in office before the matter of his successor is resolved.

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