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Zimbabwe's aging president says he will not retire

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December 10, 2011 11:43 AM EST | AP


HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe's ailing 87-year-old president says he will not retire ahead of proposed elections next year and will stay on to lead the country against a Western campaign for "regime change."

President Robert Mugabe, addressing 6,000 delegates Saturday at the end of his party's annual convention in the second city of Bulawayo, says it would be "an act of cowardice" for him to step down. He has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.

"Luckily, God has given me this longer life than others to be with you and I will not let you down," he said.

The four-day convention passed resolutions confirming Mugabe as its sole presidential election candidate and called for polls "early next year without fail."