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Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first post-independence leader, has died aged 95.

After Mugabe’s fall from office in November 2017, his renowned physical stamina seemed to seep away.

The former political prisoner turned guerrilla leader swept to power in the 1980 elections after a growing rebellion and economic sanctions forced the white minority colonial government to the negotiating table.

He died after battling ill health according to sources. Mr Mugabe had been in hospital in Singapore since April.

He was ousted in a military coup in November 2017, ending three decades in power.

He won Zimbabwe’s first election after independence, becoming prime minister in 1980. He abolished the office in 1987, becoming president instead.

Mr Mnangagwa had been Mr Mugabe’s deputy before replacing him.

It is believed Mugabe died in Singapore, where he had been a frequent visitor to receive medical care in recent months as his health has deteriorated. As far back as November 2018, Mnangagwa, who took over from him as president, told members of the ruling Zanu-PF party that Mugabe could no longer walk.

Born on February 21, 1924, into a Catholic family at Kutama Mission northwest of Harare, Mugabe was described as a loner and a studious child, known to carry a book even while tending cattle in the bush.

Confirming Mr Mugabe had died, Zimbabwe’s current President Emmerson Mnangagwa called him the nation’s “founding father”.

“Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people,” the tweet read.

“His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

“Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people,” the tweet read.

It is believed Mugabe died in Singapore, where he had been a frequent visitor to receive medical care in recent months as his health has deteriorated. As far back as November 2018, Mnangagwa, who took over from him as president, told members of the ruling Zanu-PF party that Mugabe could no longer walk.

Mugabe was a hero of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle and became the country’s leader in 1978 before his decades-long rule descended into tyranny, corruption and incompetence. Though once widely celebrated for his role in fighting the white supremacist regime in his homeland, known as Rhodesia under colonial rule, Mugabe had long become a deeply divisive figure in his own country and across the continent. His final years in power were characterised by financial collapse, surges of violent intimidation and a power struggle pitting his wife Grace, 41 years younger, against Mnangagwa, his former righthand man.

His stubborn character in him, refusing to accept his expulsion from his own party and clinging on for a week until parliament started to impeach him after the de facto coup.

His resignation triggered wild celebrations across the country of 13 million. For Mr Mugabe, it was an “unconstitutional and humiliating” act of betrayal by his party and people, and left him a broken man.

Confined for the remaining years of his life between Singapore where he was receiving medical treatment and his sprawling “Blue Roof” mansion in Harare, an ailing Mr Mugabe could only observe from afar the political stage where he once strode tall.

Despite Zimbabwe’s decline during his rule, Mugabe remained defiant, railing against the West for what he called its neo-colonialist attitude and urging Africans to take control of their resources, a populist message that was often a hit even as many nations on the continent shed the strongman model and moved toward democracy.

Mugabe enjoyed acceptance among peers in Africa who chose not to judge him in the same way as Britain, the United States and other Western detractors.

2017: Sacks long-time ally Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him

In November 2017, and thereafter, the Army intervenes and forces him to step down

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