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Mugabe confirms new run for office at 93 and praises 'fireworks' of wife Grace

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, marking his 93rd birthday, has described his wife Grace as "fireworks" because of her feisty remarks in his defence.

A large celebration is scheduled for Saturday in tribute to Mr Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Ms Mugabe, an increasingly political figure, has defended her husband against critics who say it is time for him to step down, insisting the ruling party should field him "as a corpse" if he dies before elections next year.

In an interview marking his birthday shown on state broadcaster ZBC, Mr Mugabe noted that his wife's remarks were shown on television.

"Fireworks, isn't it?" he said, laughing.

Ms Mugabe's political rise has been a source of consternation for opposition figures as well as some officials in the ruling Zanu-PF party who suspect she is positioning herself for a more powerful role in government.

The president described her as "very much accepted by the people" and said the women's wing of the ruling party had chosen his wife as its head because of her political ambitions.

He described her as "well-seasoned" and "a very strong character".

Mr Mugabe also repeated his pledge to stand in elections in 2018 despite calls from some Zimbabweans for him to quit amid economic turmoil in the once-prosperous country and numerous allegations about human rights and election irregularities.

The president said he is still popular and nobody is qualified to replace him.

"The volume of wishes for the president to stand, the number of people who will be disappointed is galore and I don't want to disappoint them," he said.

During the interview, Mr Mugabe often gestured to emphasise points. He spoke slowly and was slumped in a leather armchair most of the time.

AP

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