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Mugabe says he won't retire as president due to British pressure


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in power since the African country's independence in 1980, said Sunday he will not step down in response to calls 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 Yokohama. "I won't be changed by the British. My people will change me."

Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, along with other European countries and the United States have criticized Zimbabwe's "dictatorship" and imposed sanctions against Mugabe.

But Mugabe said there was no democracy in Zimbabwe before independence and stressed, "We brought democracy to the country."

In a referendum held in March, the people of Zimbabwe approved a new constitution which restricts a president to serving only two five-year terms.

But as it is not applicable retroactively, Mugabe could be elected to serve another two terms, which would be his sixth and seventh terms, and remain in power until age 99.

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