Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe whose rule was mired in accusations of human rights abuses and corruption, has died aged 95. Mr Mugabe reportedly died in Singapore, where he has often received medical treatment in recent years.
The country’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed the news on his official Twitter account.
«It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,» a post on Mnangagwa’s official presidential Twitter account said.
Born in then Rhodesia, Mr Mugabe co-founded the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1963, a resistance movement against British colonial rule.
He was jailed for anti-government comments between 1964 and 1974.
Mr Mugabe became Prime Minister in 1980 of the new Republic of Zimbabwe and assumed the role of president seven years later.
In 2000 he led a campaign to evict white farmers from their land, which was given to black Zimbabweans, and led to famine.
He retained a strong grip on power, through controversial elections, until he was forced to resign in November 2017, at age 93.
His resignation triggered wild celebrations across the country of 13 million, but for Mr Mugabe it was an «unconstitutional and humiliating» act of betrayal by his party and people.
Mr Mugabe was in 1980 chosen to guide the country towards «democracy» after 14 years of rebellion against the Crown headed by the white Southern Rhodesian leader, Ian Smith.
Much of his dirty work was carried out by his bullying henchmen, the «veterans» of the guerrilla war mounted against the Smith regime.
They attacked and often murdered white farmers, burning their homes, looting their possessions and confiscating their land.
And under Mr Mugabe’s leadership the economy of this mineral-rich country descended into chaos with thousands of people reduced to grinding poverty, many of them suffering from near-starvation and worse.
His relationship with the Commonwealth, which he dubbed an «Anglo-Saxon unholy alliance», was always stormy.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth in March 2002, after Mr Mugabe had been denounced for vote-rigging his own re-election.
And during the heads of government conference a year later, he quit the Commonwealth of his own volition while member states were arguing about Zimbabwe’s future.
He said: «Anything you agree on Zimbabwe which is short of this position (ending suspension) no matter how sweetly worded, means Zimbabwe is still a subject of the Commonwealth. This is unacceptable. This is it. It’s quits. And quits it will be.»
During his dictatorial reign over the African country continued, many voiced their concerns about the power-obsessed leader, including the then Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who cut up his dog collar on live television in a dramatic protest.
He pledged that he would not wear the symbol of his office again until the Zimbabwe president had been removed from power, and insisted the gesture represented the way Mugabe had «destroyed the identities» of his people through oppression and economic mismanagement.
In 2008 Mr Mugabe was stripped of his honorary knighthood, which he was awarded in 1994, over his «abuse of human rights» and «abject disregard» for democracy, the Foreign Office said at the time. The Queen approved the annulment.
But Mr Mugabe was admired by some. In late 2015 the president was awarded China’s alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize, the Confucius Peace Prize, for what its committee called his inspired national leadership and service to pan-Africanism.
And in October 2017, he was appointed a «goodwill ambassador» for the World Health Organisation, but this was later withdrawn after a flood of outrage and concerns voiced by international leaders and health experts poured in.
Just one month later, his 37-year rule was brought to a dramatic end.
Following a military takeover, political revolt, his house arrest, and the threat of impeachment, Mugabe, the then oldest head of state in the world, finally resigned as president.
In a letter read out in parliament, the then 93-year-old said his decision was «voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for a smooth, non-violent transfer of power».
The announcement prompted jubilant scenes in the capital Harare as the news spread and Zimbabweans took to the streets to celebrate the downfall of the ageing dictator.
In 1961, he married Sarah Francesca Hayfron. She died in 1992. Then in 1996, he married Grace Manufu, a union which produced two sons and one daughter. His first marriage produced one son who predeceased him.