Leaked WikiLeaks cable paints portrait of an eccentric Mugabe

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Harare (Zimbabwe), Dec. 24 (ANI): A secret diplomatic cable obtained by the whistle blowing web site WikiLeaks and published in South Africa, shows an odd portrait of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe sitting in splendid isolation in his presidential office, obsessed with the past, as a white-gloved butler serves him tea and parmesan breadsticks.

This portrait emerged from a "surreal" meeting between Mugabe and American officials last year, the Globe and Mail reports.he marathon three-hour meeting, recorded by the U.S. embassy in a detailed cable, is a rare glimpse into the eccentric mind of the man who has controlled Zimbabwe for the past three decades - and who intends to keep power in a fresh election next year.

The cable describes Mugabe as "defiant" and "clearly stuck in the past," displaying a "serious disconnect" from the nasty realities of his country, yet acutely conscious of his isolation and "desperate to re-engage with the world."

He told the Americans that his country "hadn't had many visitors lately."

The cable suggests that Mugabe is unlikely to give up power willingly, despite his advanced age.

It describes him as "possibly the healthiest 85-year-old in Zimbabwe" - alert, vigorous, strong-voiced and able to lecture the U.S. officials non-stop about Zimbabwean history for more than an hour "without so much as a sip of water or a clearing of the throat."

The cable was obtained by Media24, a leading South African media group, and published on its website. It is one of about 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by the WikiLeaks organization.t the end of the meeting, Mugabe "appeared almost sad to see us go," the cable said. "If the ambassador had not ended the meeting, we could have well been there another 30 minutes."

Today, two months from his 87th birthday, Mugabe is vowing to seek re-election next year, and his party has formally endorsed him as its election candidate.

His loyalists are still using violence to intimidate their opponents - most recently during a series of public hearings on a new constitution, when many people were beaten for failing to support the ruling party. (ANI)

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