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With Mugabe’s Era Ending in Zimbabwe, a Warning Echoes in Africa

In widely disputed elections in 2008, Mr. Mugabe’s security forces and loyalists beat, killed or intimidated thousands of opposition supporters, prompting their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to withdraw from a runoff vote. Mr. Mugabe was declared the winner until international pressure forced him into a power-sharing government with Mr. Tsvangirai.

In 2013, elections were again flawed but Mr. Mugabe emerged triumphant, ending the power-sharing arrangement and insisting that he would run again in 2018 — a prospect that now seems unlikely.

Beyond his borders, his country faced sanctions. He was barred from travel to the West except to attend international gatherings. He sought help from China as it spread its influence across Africa, and he depicted himself as a voice against colonialism — a stance that often undermined any attempts by other African leaders to criticize him in public.

But, at home, he seemed increasingly loyal to the political aspirations of his wife, breaking his ties with those who had been his allies in the liberation war, notably Mr. Mnangagwa. But even before that, Mr. Mugabe had dismissed another former vice president, Joice Mujuru, who seemed to be at daggers drawn with Mrs. Mugabe. She, too, had been a guerrilla fighter, with the nom de guerre “Spill Blood.”

Mr. Mugabe traveled often to Asia for medical treatment that seemed to rejuvenate him, so much so that he once compared himself to the biblical Lazarus, rising from the dead.

Politically, he did not even acknowledge that the end might one day come without divine intervention. In a speech before the African Union in 2016, indeed, he said would remain at the helm “until God says: Come.”

Source: NYT > World

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