- Title: FILE: PROFILE - Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, turns 89
- Date: 21st February 2013
- Summary: MUTARE, ZIMBABWE (RECENT - FEBRUARY 25, 2012) (REUTERS) HUGE BIRTHDAY CAKE ON DISPLAY AT ZANU-PF RALLY HELD TO CELEBRATE MUGABE'S 88TH BIRTHDAY MUGABE BLOWING OUT CANDLES ON BIRTHDAY CAKE
- Reuters ID: LVA4TRQE30VH7R4XUM1OMRRG3FA7
- Location: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Usa, China, United Kingdom
- Country: Usa China Zimbabwe United Kingdom Zambia
- Duration: 00:00:10
- Topics: International Relations,Politics,People
- Story Text: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, and who now faces an uphill task to retain power in a country struggling to recover from a decade-long economic slump that many blame on him, turned 89 on Thursday (February 21).
Mugabe once charmed global figures with his wit and intellect in the early years of his rule when a relatively rich Zimbabwe was praised for its education and social systems.
But he has since become a pariah in the West, blamed for running the economy into the ground and for massive human rights abuses to keep his grip on power.
Earlier this month, Mugabe set March 16 as the date for a referendum on a proposed new constitution, a crucial step towards a general election late in the year to end a four-year coalition government.
Adoption of a new constitution seems almost certain since both Mugabe's and rival Morgan Tsvangirai's parties have backed it. Once enacted, it will pave way for presidential and parliamentary elections that Tsvangirai said were expected in July.
The proposed supreme law, agreed to by the coalition partners in January and approved by parliament this month, seeks to curb sweeping presidential powers while strengthening state institutions such as the cabinet, parliament and judiciary.
Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government after a disputed 2008 vote and agreed to hold fresh polls only after adopting a new constitution.
Born in 1924 in Kutama, Mugabe's political career began in 1960 with the formation of the National Democratic Party. A teacher by profession he was jailed in 1964 for 10 years for fighting white minority rule in what was then Rhodesia.
After his release he went into exile in Mozambique where he and fellow nationalist leader Joshua Nkomo joined forces to form the Patriotic Front guerrilla alliance to fight the white regime led by Prime Minister Ian Smith. During the war for independence Mugabe was known in liberal international circles as the thinking man's guerrilla.
The turning point in the seven-year war came when Mugabe and Nkomo agreed to attend talks convened by the British government. Three months of intensive negotiations led to the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement which oversaw the transition to majority rule. In 1980 Mugabe became the country's first black prime minister.
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