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Zimbabwe's Mugabe turns 93, says he will stand in 2018 polls

  • FILE - In this Saturday, Dec, 17, 2016 file photo, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses people at an event before the closure of his party's 16th Annual Peoples Conference in Masvingo, south of the capital Harare. Mugabe celebrates his 93 birthday Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, with celebrations set for Saturday. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

    FILE - In this Saturday, Dec, 17, 2016 file photo, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses people at an event before the closure of his party's 16th Annual Peoples Conference in Masvingo, south of the capital Harare. Mugabe celebrates his 93 birthday Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, with celebrations set for Saturday. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe cuts his birthday cake as he marks his 93rd birthday at his offices in Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Mugabe described his wife Grace, an increasingly political figure, as "fireworks" in an interview marking his 93rd birthday. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe cuts his birthday cake as he marks his 93rd birthday at his offices in Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Mugabe described his wife Grace, an increasingly political figure, as "fireworks" in an interview marking his 93rd birthday. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe reads his birthday card as he marks his 93rd birthday at his offices in Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Mugabe described his wife Grace, an increasingly political figure, as "fireworks" in an interview marking his 93rd birthday. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe reads his birthday card as he marks his 93rd birthday at his offices in Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Mugabe described his wife Grace, an increasingly political figure, as "fireworks" in an interview marking his 93rd birthday. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)  (The Associated Press)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has described his wife Grace, an increasingly political figure, as "fireworks" in an interview marking his 93rd birthday.

While the leader's birthday is Tuesday, a large celebration is scheduled for Saturday in tribute to Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980. Grace Mugabe has defended her husband against critics who say it is time for him to step down, saying the ruling party should field him as a corpse if he dies before elections next year.

In an interview shown late Monday on state broadcaster ZBC, Mugabe says the women's wing of the ruling ZANU-PF party chose Grace Mugabe as its head because of her political ambitions. Mugabe also repeats his pledge to stand in elections in 2018.