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Robert Mugabe

(b. 1924) Zimbabwean statesman

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(1924– )

Zimbabwean statesman, Prime Minister (1980–87) and President since 1987. In 1963 he cofounded the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and in 1975 became its leader; the following year he formed the Patriotic Front with the leader of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), Joshua Nkomo. Mugabe was declared Prime Minister in 1980 after ZANU won a landslide victory in the country's first post-independence elections. In 1982 he ousted Nkomo from his Cabinet; ZANU and ZAPU agreed to merge in 1987 and Mugabe became President. Amidst violence and electoral fraud, he retained the presidency in 2008, and, although he agreed, under pressure from South Africa, to share power with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, he has resisted implementation of the agreement and maintains his hold over power. His corrupt and authoritarian rule and its disregard for human rights has both impoverished Zimbabwe and led to international condemnation.

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