Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 89th birthday with a vow to win elections due this year.
Mugabe, who’s led Zimbabwe since its independence from the U.K. in 1980, scheduled a referendum on the southern African nation’s new constitution for March 16, paving the way for general elections. His Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party has ruled the country in a coalition with the Movement for Democratic Change since 2009.
Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 60, have fought a series of elections since 2000. All of them were judged by observers including those from the European Union as having been marred by violence, mainly against Tsvangirai’s supporters, and electoral irregularities.
“We will win the elections,” Mugabe told thousands of supporters in the gold-mining town of Bindura where public celebrations were held today to mark his Feb. 21 birthday. “We won’t win through violence. We want peaceful elections.”
Mugabe was presented with five cakes, one of them weighing 89 kilograms (196 pounds).
To contact the reporter on this story: Karl Maier in Rome at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at email@example.comZimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, right, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have ruled Zimbabwe in a coalition government since 2009 when the 15-nation Southern African Development Community compelled the leaders to form a government together to end a decade-long political dispute and economic recession. Photographer: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images