0320 GMT December 14, 2019
Robert Mugabe, the former guerrilla leader who held onto power in Zimbabwe for 37 years, died aged 95, the country's president announced Friday.
"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President... Robert Mugabe," Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a tweet, according to AFP.
"Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten."
Mugabe had been battling ill health, and after his fall from office, his stamina seeped away rapidly. He was hospitalized in Singapore for months for an undisclosed ailment, Mnangagwa had confirmed earlier this year.
No further details were immediately available about the circumstances of his death, or where he died.
Former information minister Jonathan Moyo and a close ally of Mugabe tweeted "a dark cloud has enveloped Zimbabwe and beyond."
Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi in a message on Friday extended condolences to the Zimbabwe’s government, nation and Mugabe’s family over his passing away, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s official website.
Referring to Mugabe's unparalleled role as a national hero in the struggle for his country’s independence and liberation from colonialism, Mousavi stressed, "After Zimbabwe's independence, Mugabe continued to firmly defend his country’s national sovereignty against foreign interference”.
The Iranian official also praised Zimbabwe’s close relations with Iran during his tenure.
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said Mugabe served his country "with commitment and dedication.
"Words cannot convey the magnitude of the loss as former President Mugabe was an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a Pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent.
"Indeed, we will remember former President Mugabe as a man of courage who was never afraid to fight for what he believed in even when it was not popular."
China hailed him as "outstanding national liberation movement leader and politician.
"Throughout his life, he firmly defended the sovereignty of his country, opposed foreign interference, and actively promoted China-Zimbabwe and China-Africa friendship and cooperation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
The former political prisoner turned guerrilla leader swept to power in the 1980 elections after a growing insurgency and economic sanctions forced the Rhodesian government to the negotiating table.
In office, he initially won international plaudits for his declared policy of racial reconciliation and for extending improved education and health services to the black majority.
Aimed largely at placating angry war veterans who threatened to destabilize his rule, the land reform policy wrecked the crucial agricultural sector, caused foreign investors to flee and helped plunge the country into economic misery.
The topic of his succession was virtually taboo during Mugabe's decades-long rule, and a vicious struggle to take over after his death became clear among the ruling elite as he reached his 90s and became visibly frail.
But as his health weakened, the military finally intervened to ensure that his second wife Grace's presidential ambitions were ended in favor of their own preferred candidate, Mnangagwa, Mugabe's vice president. He was finally ousted by his previously loyal generals in November 2017.
Mnangagwa took over in November 2017, and he went on to be elected in elections in July last year.