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Mugabe's wife Grace says Zimbabwe president should name successor

Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe has urged her 93-year old husband to pick a leader to succeed him, which he has long refused to do. Robert Mugabe has already started campaigning for the next year's election.

Grace Mugabe asked Zimbabwe's president to not be "afraid" to name his favorite, while addressing the members of the women's league of the ruling ZANU-PF party in Harare. Robert Mugabe also attended the Wednesday meeting, but did not respond.

"Tell us who is your choice, which horse we should back," the country's first lady said. "We will rise in our numbers and openly support that horse. Why should our horse be concealed?"

The 52-year-old Grace Mugabe leads the party's women's league and has grown increasingly powerful in recent years. Many observers believe she would be among the top candidates to succeed her husband, and she has gone back and forth with her comments on the issue.

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"I live with this elder. He has wisdom," she said of her 93-year-old husband on Wednesday. "Mark my words, his word will be final."

'Field him as a corpse'

Robert Mugabe has ruled the South African nation since 1980. Despite his advanced age, he has refused to pick a leader to succeed him, saying that the choice would be left to his ZANU-PF party.

Read more: ZANU-PF elects Mugabe and wife to top posts

He has also announced he would run for another five-year term in the next presidential election, scheduled for July next year. With Mugabe struggling to walk and his health problems apparently growing more severe in recent months, some observers have speculated that he might call for an early election.

The uncertainty about the next ZANU-PF leader caused an open power struggle between various factions in the party. Both Mugabe and his wife have warned against pretenders anointing themselves as successors.

Earlier this year, Grace Mugabe had said that the party could "field [Mugabe] as a corpse" in 2018 if "God decides to take him" before the vote.

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dj/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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