Zimbabwe ex-leader Mugabe on 1st trip abroad since resigning

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Zimbabwe's former leader Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, have traveled to Singapore on their first trip abroad since Mugabe resigned last month under pressure from the military and ruling party, the presidential spokesman said Tuesday.

Mugabe, 93, has gone on his annual leave and for routine medical checkups, spokesman George Charamba told The Associated Press.

"The former president is free to travel when and where he needs," said Charamba, who said this should dispel some reports that Mugabe had remained under house arrest. "This is their regular trip," he said.

Mugabe has not made any public appearances since he stepped down after 37 years in power amid impeachment proceedings. For many years he has taken annual trips to Singapore and other Asian countries in January and February.

The world's oldest head of state until he left office on Nov. 21, Mugabe has frequently traveled to Singapore for medical care.

He was forced from office by the army and the ruling ZANU-PF party after he fired then-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime ally, and appeared to position his 52-year-old wife to succeed him. Mnangagwa fled the country and the army put Mugabe under house arrest. Once Mugabe resigned, Mnangagwa made a triumphant return and was inaugurated on Nov. 24.

Mugabe's overseas travel means that he will not be in Zimbabwe for the ruling party's annual conference later this week, in which party officials are expected to confirm Mnangagwa as their presidential candidate in next year's elections.

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Andrew Meldrum


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