Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe dies at 95

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

He died after battling ill health, his family confirmed to the reporters. 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, reports BBC.

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

Robert Mugabe

Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe attends the launch of basic commodities in Harare, Zimbabwe in 2008

Mugabe’s early years were praised for broadening access to health and education for the black majority. But his controversial land reform programme sparked an economic collapse and his latter years were marked by rights abuses and corruption.

His successor, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, expressed his “utmost sadness”, calling Mr Mugabe “Zimbabwe’s founding father” and “an icon of liberation”.

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

‘Liberation icon’

Mr Mugabe was born on 21 February 1924 in what was then Rhodesia. He was imprisoned for more than a decade without trial after criticizing the government of Rhodesia in 1964.

In 1973, while still in prison, he was chosen as president of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), of which he was a founding member.

Once released, he adopted a militant stance, heading to Mozambique and directing guerrilla raids into Rhodesia. But he was also seen as a skilled negotiator.

Political agreements to end the crisis resulted in the new independent Republic of Zimbabwe, elections for which were first held in 1980.

Mr Mugabe, with his high profile in the independence movement, secured an overwhelming victory.

 

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