The father of Zimbabwe the former President Robert Mugabe has said he will not vote for his former party, Zanu-PF, in a surprise address on the eve of the nation’s historic election.
After months of silence, the former president Mr Mugabe declared “I will not vote for those who have illegally taken power” and turned his back on the ruling party he long controlled.
The 94-year-old former president of Zimbabwe said: “I cannot vote for those who have tormented me.”
Zimbabweans go to the polls on Monday in the first vote since Mr Mugabe was ousted in November.
Many in Zimbabwe have known no other leader but Mr Mugabe, who led the country for 37 years after independence from white minority rule in 1980.
Mr Robert Robert Mugabe has backed the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and its candidate Nelson Chamisa.
Speaking from his home in Harare, Mr Mugabe said: “He [Chamisa] seems to be doing well at his rallies … I wish to meet him if he wins.”
And the former president added: “Whoever wins, we wish him well … And let us accept the verdict.” The former president said he resigned to avoid “bloodshed” and defended his wife, Grace, who just months ago appeared to be positioning herself for the presidency: “Leave, leave, leave my wife alone.”
He blamed “evil and malicious characters” for his resignation, and Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa of conniving with the military chief to pull off a “coup”.
“I was a fool to have him next to me,” he said of Mr Mnangagwa.
And in a breathtaking statement, Mr Mugabe asserted that his long stay in office had been free from meddling: “It was not the army that ensured I remained in power.”
Mr Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe confidante, has tried to recast himself as a voice for reform, inviting back Western dozens of election observers and pledging a free and fair vote.
He took power after the resignation of Mr Mugabe last year.
The main opposition leader, Mr Chamisa, says the election commission is biased against the opposition and that he expects the vote to be flawed.
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