SINGAPORE (AP) — The body of Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe was being returned to his homeland Wednesday to lie in state before his burial in the African nation he ruled for decades.
Mugabe died Friday in a Singapore hospital at age 95.
The ex-guerrilla leader took power when Zimbabwe shook off white minority rule in 1980. He enjoyed strong public backing in the initial years, but that support waned following repression, economic mismanagement and alleged election-rigging and he was forced out of power in 2017.
Many still regard him as a national hero, with some Zimbabweans even saying they missed him after his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, failed to revive the economy and used the army to crush dissent.
Zimbabwe’s Vice President Kembo Mohadi was seen at the Singapore Casket funeral parlor Tuesday afternoon, and police escorted a hearse from the building Wednesday morning to go to the airport.
A Zimbabwe state newspaper said his body would return to the country on Wednesday.
The Sunday Mail quoted presidential spokesman George Charamba in reporting Mnangagwa and family members will receive the body at the airport named after the former president in the capital, Harare. The body will be taken to Mugabe’s rural home before being placed in a stadium for public viewing.
Mnangagwa declared Mugabe a national hero and said official mourning will only end after the burial at the National Heroes Acre, a hilltop shrine reserved exclusively for Zimbabweans who made huge sacrifices during the war against white-minority rule.
Zimbabwe’s information minister said Mugabe’s body will lie in state at two stadiums in Harare for three days. His burial is scheduled on Sunday.