Robert Mugabe throws lavish birthday party

Celebration comes amidst allegations that ruling party responsible for violence ahead of elections.

    Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe marked his 89th birthday with a lavish party, reportedly costing $600,000.

    Mugabe, who turned 89 on February 21, sported a bright red cap with his year of birth in green numbers and looked jovial as he cut his birthday cakes during an event at a stadium in the northeastern mining town of Bindura.

    He gave officials from the ruling ZANU-PF party and supporters an hour-long fiery speech packed with anti-Western rhetoric and stinging criticism of his political opponents.

    "Forward with winning elections, down with imperialism," he roared.

    He also called for harmony ahead of a referendum on a new constitution which is due in two weeks and supposed to pave the way for July polls that should end the uneasy power-sharing deal between Mugabe's party and his rival prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

    Celebrations aside, though, Mugabe is fighting allegations that his party is responsible for an increase in violence ahead of a presidential election expected later this year.

    Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa reports from Bindura.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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