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29 Apr 2003 10:37
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe does not intend to leave office anytime before his current term ends in 2008, the Zimbabwean government has said.
“President Robert Mugabe has not indicated a wish to leave office now, or at any other time before the expiry of his term,” said a statement from the information and publicity department in Mugabe’s office.
Mugabe who has been in power in the southern African country for 23 years since independence from Britain in 1980 hinted last week that he was nearing the time to retire.
In an interview with Zimbabwean state television on April 21, 79-year-old Mugabe indicated that he was “getting to a stage” when retirement might be on the cards.
He was responding to a question on when he would step down.
However, the information department said all Mugabe was trying o do was stir national debate on a variety of issues.
“All the President did in the recent interview… was to invite national debate on a range of national questions, including that of succession,” said the statement.
There has been mounting speculation in recent months that several officials within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party were jostling to succeed Mugabe should he step down.
Mugabe had said previously that he would leave office only after his government has completed the controversial land reform programme that has seen white-owned land redistributed among new black farmers. - Sapa-AFP
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