Mugabe in Singapore for eye operation ahead of 90th birthday

Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:36am EST
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By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe is in Singapore for an eye operation ahead of his 90th birthday on Friday, a spokesman said, maintaining a government denial that Zimbabwe's long-serving ruler is suffering from prostate cancer.

George Charamba said Mugabe, Africa's oldest president, left Harare on Monday and would be back in the country for birthday celebrations on Saturday.

"This is a routine check-up, a routine cataract operation for his left eye whose date was set down more than a year ago and the president has gone out to fulfill that appointment," Charamba told Reuters on Tuesday.

"There is nothing more than that, nothing serious" he said, dismissing speculation that Mugabe is struggling with his health. "He had a right eye operation a couple of years ago and he is going to have the other attended to now."

A June 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks said Mugabe had prostate cancer that had spread to other organs.

He was apparently urged by his physician to step down in 2008 but has remained in the job.

Mugabe, who came to power when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, is one of Africa's longest serving leaders.

In an interview ahead of his 89th birthday last year Mugabe said he felt he had a "divine task" to lead. He went on to contest and win another five-year presidential term last July that will end in 2018 when he will be 94.   Continued...

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe attends the swearing-in ceremony of his Mozambican counterpart Armando Guebuza for a second term in office in the capital Maputo, January 14, 2010. REUTERS/Grant Lee Neuenburg