Zimbabwe’s Mugabe emerges, rejects ruling party in election

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) – In a surprise address to the nation after months of silence, Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe emerged just hours before Monday’s historic election declaring that “I will not vote for those who have illegally taken power” and turning his back on the ruling party he long controlled.

Slow and rambling, the 94-year-old Mugabe spoke to reporters on Sunday with bitterness about his dramatic removal in November under military pressure and amid a ruling party feud.

He was coy about endorsing anyone ahead of the election in which the former deputy that he fired, President Emmerson Mnangagawa, faces a 40-year-old lawyer and pastor, Nelson Chamisa. He indicated, however, that Chamisa was the only viable candidate.

“I cannot vote for those who have tormented me,” Mugabe said in a reference to Mnangagwa, who took office with the military’s support. “I cannot vote for ZANU-PF,” the ruling party that has rejected him as well.

Mugabe, who has backed a new political party that is part of a coalition supporting Chamisa, said of him: “He seems to be doing well at his rallies … I wish to meet him if he wins.”