President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe Saturday, said he was neither quitting nor dying and that there was no one that could adequately fill his space.
Mugabe, 93, has been in charge of the former British colony since independence in 1980.
Mugabe told tens of thousands of supporters at a rally in the town of Chinhoyi, in his home province, that doctors were recently surprised by his “strong bone system.”
“The president is dying. I am not dying. I will have an ailment here and there but body-wise, all my internal organs … very firm, very strong,” Mugabe said according to Reuters Africa.
The issue of who will succeed Mugabe has deeply divided the ruling party, with two factions supporting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
On Thursday, Grace challenged Mugabe to name his preferred successor, to end divisions over the future leadership of ZANU-PF.
She repeated the call on Saturday, adding that Mugabe would lead the process to choose his eventual successor.
Mugabe said although some party officials wanted to succeed him, he saw no one among his subordinates with his political clout to keep the party united and fend off a challenge from the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
“A new man will not have the same stature and the same acceptance as I have managed to secure for the party over the years,” said Mugabe.