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Death Won't Stop Mugabe Re-election Bid, Says Wife

FILE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) and his wife Grace look on during the Defense Force's 36th Anniversary celebrations in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 9, 2016.

The first lady of Zimbabwe says President Robert Mugabe, who turns 93 next week, will be a candidate in next year's elections even if he passes away.

Addressing a rally of the ruling ZANU-PF party, Grace Mugabe said, "Even if the president dies before the election, millions of Zimbabweans will vote for his corpse next year.”

The Shona-language speech Friday was broadcast on Facebook Live and monitored by VOA's Zimbabwe service.

Mugabe was not present for the rally in the Buhera district in central Zimbabwe. The president, who has ruled Zimbabwe for nearly four decades, has been rumored to be in poor health for years but remains firmly in control of ZANU-PF and the government.

ZANU-PF recently selected him as its presidential candidate for the 2018 elections.