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Zimbabwe Denies Reports Mugabe to Retire

The Zimbabwe government is denying reports that President Robert Mugabe is going to retire. A government statement released late Monday said Mr. Mugabe intends to stay in office until his term expires in 2008.

Information minister Jonathan Moyo dismissed reports of Mr. Mugabe's early retirement as "wishful" thinking by Western journalists.

He attributed the reports to British journalists seeking to protect white interests.

The speculation was fueled by an interview President Mugabe gave to state television last week. In the interview, he hinted he might consider retiring now that he had finished the job of transferring most white-owned land to blacks.

However, it is not just speculation according to Western diplomatic sources in the region.

They say that three African leaders, the presidents of Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa, are due to visit Mr. Mugabe within the next week or so. All three, according to political observers in Zimbabwe, are irritated that the ruling ZANU-PF party has not yet settled on a successor to Mr. Mugabe.

They are also said to be frustrated that almost all international donor meetings, as well as political meetings of regional leaders, are dominated by the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Andrew Nongogo, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Crisis Group, which monitors political developments in Zimbabwe, said African countries had run out of patience with ZANU-PF.

Meanwhile, the crisis in Zimbabwe deepens. On Tuesday most banks ran out of money. And mass action is planned by opposition forces early next week. In the last month two general strikes have paralyzed commerce and industry.