Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe died  in Singapore at the age of 95. Mugabe had been in power for 37 years and had resigned in 2017 after an army-led coup. In the 1980s he was prime minister of Zimbabwe, and then in 1987 he became its president, establishing a dictatorial regime.

The end of his regime began in November 2017, when Mugabe had dismissed Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president and former head of security services nicknamed “crocodile”. Mnangagwa immediately left the country for fear of being arrested, but Mugabe’s gesture was not appreciated by several generals, who had interpreted it as a way to open the way for succession to the presidency of Grace, the president’s wife.

A few days after the dismissal of Mnangagwa, the military intervened, occupying the headquarters of national television and putting Mugabe under house arrest. Even his party, Zanu-PF, had taken away the presidency of the party and announced that if he had not resigned as president he would have requested impeachment .

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe inspects a guard of honour during Armed Forces Day celebrations in Harare Tuesday, Aug 12, 2008. Mugabe praised the country’s army for maintaining peace in the country and decorated senior military officials who have supported him in his bid to cling to power. (AP Photo)

Mugabe was born on 21 February 1924 in Harare, in what was then Southern Rhodesia. He graduated in political science in South Africa, where he came into contact with Marxist ideas. After being a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP), which later became the People’s African Union of Zimbabwe (ZAPU), in 1963 he came out to join the National African Union of Zimbabwe (ZANU), of which he became secretary. In 1964 he was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison because of his positions in favor of the armed struggle to obtain the independence of the country. After being freed, in 1976 he took refuge in Mozambique where he also assumed the leadership of the paramilitary wing of the ZANU. In 1976 ZANU and ZAPU joined and formed the Patriotic Front (PF).

After years of armed struggle, negotiations began in 1979 between the Patriotic Front and the leaders of Southern Rhodesia, which led to the independence of the country in 1980, which was renamed Zimbabwe. Mugabe became prime minister, while the first president was Canaan Banana. In 1987 the figure of the prime minister was abolished and Mugabe became president, a position he held until 2017.

The years of his long presidency were very controversial and Mugabe was accused of repression of dissent, corruption, persecution of ethnic minorities, personal appropriation of international aid and violations of human rights. After his dismissal, thanks to an agreement with the military perpetrators of the coup, he obtained immunity for him and his wife Grace, who for some time had been the main candidate to become the new president of Zimbabwe. In the last few months he was very sick, and since last April he was hospitalised in Singapore.