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Mugabe Pleads for Unity in Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party


FILE - President Robert Mugabe waits to address crowds gathered for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015.

FILE - President Robert Mugabe waits to address crowds gathered for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is facing trouble within his own party as members jostle to succeed the 91-year-old leader.

Mugabe got a warm welcome at the ZANU-PF annual conference, but he had a stern message to deliver.

In his speech, he lamented corruption among officials and went off script for long periods, condemning factionalism in Zimbabwe.

“Let’s stop that. We are messing the party. Let's be orderly, let us be systematic," said Mugabe. "We cannot be a party of continous success if we get divided. Divided we fall, united we stand.”

Mugabe has run Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. He turns 92 in February, but he has not indicated when -- or if -- he will throw in the towel or designate a successor.

Factions

There are two main factions in the ZANU-PF vying to replace Mugabe. One faction is led by his wife, Grace, the other by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa became vice president a year ago, after Grace Mugabe helped to force out his predecessor, Joice Mujuru.

In his speech Friday, which lasted close to two hours, Mugabe condemned the West for what he called exploitation of Africa’s resources. He said Africa’s hopes lie with countries like India and China.

Earlier this month, China’s President Xi Jinping paid a two-day visit to Zimbabwe during which he and Mugabe signed economic deals totaling more than $1 billion.

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