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Mugabe, 88 still defiant, just like Abdulaye Wade of Senegal, 85

Postby Dagna » 21 Feb 2012, 14:43

Mugabe scoffs at calls to retire

In power since 1980, Zimbabwe's president declares himself "fit as a fiddle" as he celebrates his 88th birthday.

Last Modified: 21 Feb 2012

Mugabe, right, formed a power-sharing government with his rival, Tsvangirai, at left, in 2009

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president and Africa's oldest leader, has celebrated his 88th birthday, denying reports he has cancer.

Mugabe declared himself "fit as a fiddle" on Tuesday, scoffing at calls to retire and pushing for new elections this year.

"The day will come when I will become sick," Mugabe said in an interview on state-owned Radio Zimbabwe, dismissing fears about his health.

Making light of numerous media reports of his sickness, Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, said: "I have died many times - that's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once."

Presidential officials said he would celebrate his birthday at a family dinner at his home in the capital Harare, with a celebration rally taking place in eastern Zimbabwe on Saturday.

Power-sharing deal

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, said he will stand again in new elections that he insisted should be held this year - with or without the new constitution required under Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal with Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister.

:mrgreen: "I came from the people and the people, in their wisdom, our members of the party, will certainly select someone once I say I am now retiring, but not yet," Mugabe said. :mrgreen:

Mugabe was chosen in December by his ZANU-PF party to stand again as its presidential candidate.

"There is no one who can stand and win at the moment," he said of the contenders in his party jostling to succeed him.

"We just must have elections. They just must take place with or without a new constitution. If others don't want to have an election then they are free not to participate."

Cancer claims

Mugabe's health has been the subject of much speculation, especially since WikiLeaks, the whistleblower site, released last year a 2008 US diplomatic cable saying that Zimbabwe's central bank chief, Gideon Gono, had told then-US ambassador, James McGee, that Mugabe had prostate cancer and had been advised by doctors he had less than five years to live.

Mugabe's health has been cited as one reason that a faction of his ZANU-PF party has pushed to rush new elections.

Mugabe formed a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai in 2009 to repair an inflation-ravaged economy and avoid a political meltdown after a bloody presidential runoff election.

The two rivals agreed to a number of reforms including amending electoral and media laws and drafting a new constitution to pave the way to fresh polls.

But work on the new charter has progressed in fits and starts, hindered by attacks on public outreach meetings by supporters of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Mugabe has repeatedly pressed for elections this year, but Tsvangirai wants a new constitution to be in place before the election. ... 13562.html

Re: Mugabe, 88 still defiant, just like Abdulaye Wade of Senegal, 85

Postby Dagna » 21 Feb 2012, 17:02

Senegal Opposition Calls on International Community to End Pre-Election Violence

Peter Clottey

February 20, 2012

A prominent member of Senegal's opposition M23 is calling on the international community to pressure President Abdoulaye Wade to end the growing pre-election violence allegedly perpetrated by state security forces.

Wade has faced violent opposition protests in his bid for a court-approved third term, despite a two-term constitutional limit. Protesters say six people have been killed following violence they described as a police crackdown to silence dissent. The election is Sunday.

Wade's spokesman, Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye, accused one of the opposition presidential candidates of recruiting a militia in an attempt to destabilize the country.

M23 proponent Alioune Tine sharply denies the accusation as without merit.

"They are not telling the truth. Everybody knows that the ruling party has militiamen. They attack people like me, they attacked the mayor of Dakar and they attacked two of the opposition presidential candidates," said Tine. "All our protests are peaceful and it is because they are repressing violently the demonstrations; that is why things are getting violent."

Tine said the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the rest of the international community should hold Wade responsible for the escalating violence.

"Time is up for the international community to say stop this violence," said Tine. "I think that it is difficult that we are going to elections in Senegal in such a sad situation."

Benin's President, Yayi Boni, who is also the current chairperson of the African Union (AU), has called on supporters of both the ruling party and the opposition to end the violence ahead of Sunday's presidential vote.

Mr. Boni urged them to "start an inclusive political dialogue in order to ensure a peaceful and transparent electoral process to consolidate the remarkable achievements of Senegal during its contemporary period, as well as its path towards democracy."

Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo is heading an AU poll observer mission to Senegal in the run up to the election.

Tine said the opposition is ready to hold talks with the government to end the violence. He also said members of the M23 will be meeting Obasanjo to express their concerns ahead of Sunday’s vote.

"I have met some of [Mr. Obasanjo's] assistants to prepare for our meeting with him. But, he is not here as a mediator," said Tine. "Dialogue is the best way to have peace and stability in this country. The best way is not to say, 'Let us go to elections,' because, if we go to the elections [without dialogue], we will have many problems in this country."

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