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Former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe dies

Published: Updated:

Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe died on Friday aged 95.

The country's first post-independence leader died after battling ill health, the BBC reported, citing his family.

Mugabe was ousted from power in a military coup in November 2017, ending his three-decade reign.

The country's President Emmerson Mnangagwa also announced the death on his official Twitter account.

"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe," a post on Mnangagwa's official presidential Twitter account said.

Mugabe died in Singapore, where he has often received medical treatment in recent years, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

From liberation hero to power-obsessed autocrat

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was feted as an African liberation hero and champion of racial reconciliation when he first came to power in a nation divided by nearly a century of white colonial rule.

Nearly four decades later, many at home and abroad denounced him as a power-obsessed autocrat willing to unleash death squads, rig elections and trash the economy in the relentless
pursuit of control.

Mugabe, was ultimately ousted by his own armed forces in November 2017.

He demonstrated his tenacity - some might say stubbornness - to the last, refusing to accept his expulsion from his own ZANU-PF 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 Mugabe, it was an “unconstitutional and humiliating” act of betrayal by his party and people, and left him a broken man.

On the eve of the July 2018 election, the first without him, he told reporters he would vote for the opposition, something unthinkable only a few months before.

Educated and urbane, Mugabe took power in 1980 after seven years of a liberation bush war and - until the army’s takeover - was the only leader Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, knew since independence from Britain.

But as the economy imploded starting from 2000 and his mental and physical health waned, Mugabe found fewer people to trust as he seemingly smoothed a path to succession for his wife
Grace, four decades his junior and known to her critics as “Gucci Grace” for her reputed fondness for luxury shopping.

“It’s the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife,” Chris Mutsvangwa, leader of Zimbabwe’s influential liberation war veterans, told Reuters after Mugabe’s removal.