Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, July 29 2018. File Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, July 29 2018. File Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

Harare — Robert Mugabe has said he now accepts President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe’s legitimate leader after initially accusing him of leading a "disgraceful" de facto coup that ended his near four-decades rule in 2017.

On the eve of the July 30 vote, Mugabe said he would vote for the opposition to remove Mnangagwa’s "military government", as the 94-year-old leader expressed bitterness and turned against his one-time allies in Zanu-PF.

But at a wake for his mother-in-law, Mugabe said Mnangagwa’s victory, which is still disputed by his main opponent, Nelson Chamisa, made him a legitimate president, the privately owned NewsDay and state-owned The Herald newspapers reported on Friday.

"The wrong that happened last November has been erased by his victory in the July 30 elections. We now have a government born out of the constitution. I now accept his leadership and he now deserves the support of every Zimbabwean," Mugabe said, looking frail in video footage on an online television site.

"Before the elections, I did not support him because he came through illegal means, which violated our liberation values that politics lead the gun," Mugabe added.

That is likely to end the feud between the new president and his former mentor. Mugabe’s forced resignation divided Zanuf-PF and created mistrust between the army on one side and the police and intelligence agency on the other, but the rapprochement could help overcome those differences and rally others behind Mnangagwa.

At the wake, Grace Mugabe said people should pray for her husband, who she said was not feeling well. The couple has travelled to Singapore several times in 2018 for Mugabe’s medical treatment.

Reuters

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