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Mugabe brushes off retirement pressure

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said Sunday he will not step down because of pressure from Britain and other countries for a change in government.

"I've thought about retirement, but not when the British are saying we want regime change," the 89-year-old president told Kyodo News in an interview in the Japanese city of Yokohama.

"I won't be changed by the British. My people will change me."

Mugabe has ruled uninterrupted since independence from Britain in 1980, despite a series of disputed and violent elections and a severe economic crash propelled by hyper-inflation.

He has been widely condemned for human rights abuses.

Mugabe said there was no democracy in Zimbabwe before independence. "We brought democracy to the country," he told Kyodo.

The president signed a new constitution into law last month, clearing the path to crucial elections later this year.

The charter introduces presidential term limits and strengthens parliament's powers, but could allow Mugabe to stay on for another decade if he wins elections.

Mugabe is visiting Japan to attend the three-day Tokyo International Conference for African Development ending Monday in Yokohama.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130602/mugabe-brushes-retirement-pressure