HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe has given his first interview since being forced from power in November, describing his removal as a “coup” and a “disgrace.”
Mugabe, 94, told South African broadcaster SABC in a program aired Thursday that he was pushed out by the military, which staged a takeover that led to his resignation after 37 years in power. He said, “It was a coup d’etat,” adding “we must undo this disgrace.”
The former president spoke at his mansion in a suburb of the capital, Harare.
The military intervention was hugely popular in Zimbabwe and led to impeachment proceedings by the ruling party against Mugabe, who was replaced by former confidant Emmerson Mnangagwa.
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Analysts believe prospects that Mugabe could make a political comeback are remote, despite a recent announcement by a former army brigadier that he had formed a new political party that is sympathetic to the ex-leader.
Mugabe’s rule began with promise, but the economy deteriorated and the political situation grew toxic with numerous allegations of human rights violations and rigged elections.
Finally, the military rolled tanks into the streets after Mnangagwa, then deputy president, was fired amid factional battles within the ruling ZANU-PF party and growing concern that Mugabe’s wife Grace was maneuvering to take over from her elderly husband.
The African Union endorsed Zimbabwe’s power transition and other nations were supportive of Mugabe’s ouster.
“Some people refused to call it a coup,” Mugabe said in the SABC interview.