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Robert Mugabe has served as prime minister of Zimbabwe since 1980, and has been the nation's president since 1987. He has been re-elected to the presidency multiple times, but elections have reportedly been tainted by fraud and voter intimidation.
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Mugabe demanded a recount. A runoff election was to be held that June. In the meantime, MDC supporters were being violently attacked and killed by members of Mugabe's opposition. When Mugabe publicly declared that as long as he was living, he would never let Tsvangirai rule Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai concluded that Mugabe's use of force would skew the vote in Mugabe's favor anyway,
Mugabe's refusal to hand over presidential power led to another violent outbreak that injured thousands and resulted in the death of 85 of Tsvangirai's supporters. That September, Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to a power-sharing deal. Ever determined to remain in control, Mugabe still managed to retain most of the power by controlling security forces and choosing leaders for the most vital ministry positions.
At the end of 2010, Mugabe took additional action to seize total control of Zimbabwe by selecting provisional governors without consulting Tsvangirai. A U.S. diplomatic cable indicated that Mugabe might be battling prostate cancer the following year. The allegation raised public concerns about a military coup in the event of Mugabe's death while in office. Others have voiced concerns about the possibility of violent internal war within the ZANU-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) Party, should candidates compete to become Mugabe's successor.
On December 10, 2011, at the National People's Conference in Bulawayo, Mugabe officially announced his bid for the 2012 Zimbabwe presidential election. The election was postponed, however, as both sides agreed to draft a new constitution, and rescheduled for 2013. People of Zimbabwe came out in support of the new document in March 2013, approving it in a constitution referendum, but many believe that the 2013 presidential election will be marred by corruption and violence.
According to a Reuters report, representatives from nearly 60 civic organizations within the country have complained of a crackdown by Mugabe and his supporters. Critical of Mugabe, members of these groups have been subject to intimidation, arrest and other forms of persecution. There is also a question as to who will be allowed to supervise the voting process. Mugabe has said that he will not let westerners monitor any of the country's election.
Tsvangirai is Mugabe's main opponent, and 2013 marks the third time he is challenging Mugabe. Mugabe seems confident that he will emerge as the country's sole leader once again. Addressing his supporters on his 89th birthday in March, he stated, "We will win the elections," according to a Bloomberg news article.
Later that month, Mugabe again made international headlines when he traveled to Rome for the inaugural mass for Pope Francis, who was newly named to the papacy. Mugabe told reporters that the new pope should visit Africa and stated, "We hope he will take us all his children on the same basis, basis of equality, basis that we are all in the eyes of God equal," according to a report by The Associated Press.
In late July 2013, amidst discussion regarding the current and highly anticipated Zimbabwean election, an 89-year-old Mugabe made headlines when he was asked whether he planned to run again in the 2018 election (he would be 94 then) by a reporter from The New York Times, to which the president responded, "Why do you want to know my secrets?" According to the Washington Post, Tsvangirai has accused election officials of throwing out nearly 70,000 ballots in his favor that were submitted early.
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