02/21/2014 04:30 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2014

Somehow, Robert Mugabe Is Still Alive And Despotic As Ever For His 90th Birthday

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 90th birthday on Friday, becoming the world's oldest autocrat. Among world leaders, only Israeli President Shimon Peres is older.

Mugabe began his three decades in power as a hero of Zimbabwe's independence movement. With echoes of Nelson Mandela's story, the former political prisoner initially called for reconciliation after overthrowing white minority rule.

But Mugabe's leadership took a brutal turn in the 1980s, with the mass killing of his political opponents. In the last two decades, his land redistribution program decimated his country's economy and unleashed widespread violence. Accused of rigging elections, forced displacements and terrorizing civilians with ruthless control, Mugabe metamorphosed from a national hero to an international pariah.

The aging leader, who denies widely rumored health problems, once said that he would rule until he turns 100. Mugabe has become synonymous with his eccentricity, lavish lifestyle and increasingly bizarre quips, but in this case, he appears not to be joking. The longtime dictator won a new five-year-term in 2013 and under a new constitution can remain president until he is 99, according to Agence France-Presse.

Today, on Mugabe's birthday, The WorldPost looks back at the 90 turbulent years of a now-tyrannical leader.

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