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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe still alive: spokesman

Harare has denied online rumors that President Mugabe had a heart attack and was seriously ill. A report that he had collapsed was published in the form of a letter by an anonymous author.

Government spokesman George Charamba denied reports on Thursday of the president being severely ill following a letter saying Mugabe had collapsed in Singapore.

The letter, the author of which chose to remain anonymous, was published on the news website ZimEye.

The author said "sources close to the president" were holding high-level meetings and that Mugabe would most probably not recover from his injuries. "The report says the army will most like be deploying soldiers in the streets if Harare in the next coming days," the author added, elaborating that Mugabe's family had been told "to expect the worst."

'President well, fine'

In an attempt to dispel speculation, government spokesman George Charamba published his statements in the state-run Herald newspaper in an article with the headline "President well, fine."

"You cannot doubt that there will be a story on the President's alleged death every January," Charamba said, adding that it was the best way for the website to "improve its hits in order to get dirty money from Google."

President Mugabe says he is "fit as a fiddle" and continues to give long speeches in public despite his 91 years. Speculations over his fitness abounded after he tripped and fell down in Harare last year during a televised ceremony. He also addressed the parliament in September last year, without apparently being aware that he had given the same speech a month ago. This happened again in December.

Mugabe has denied naming a successor for his ZANU-PF party, which has been

mired in factionalism.

His regime has also been accused of systematic human rights abuses and held responsible for Zimbabwe's sharp economic decline.

Senior Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is being seen as a frontrunner to be the next president.

mg/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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