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Mugabe Falls Down After Addressing Harare Supporters

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, center, falls after addressing supporters upon his return from an African Union meeting in Ethiopia, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. Mugabe, 90, was elected chairman of the African Union and is set to celebrate his 91st birthday on Feb. 21. (AP Photo)

Ninety year-old President Robert Mugabe today fell down from a podium at the Harare International Airport after addressing his supporters soon after arriving from Ethiopia where he assumed the rotational chairmanship of the African Union.

President Mugabe fell down in front of hundreds of his supporters who had thronged the Harare International Airport to welcome him from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he took over the rotational chairmanship of the continental body.

Mr. Mugabe missed a step off the podium after addressing his supporters for almost 45 minutes.

The Zimbabwean leader, who celebrates his 91st birthday this month, was helped off the ground by his aides who immediately escorted him to his presidential motorcade while dusting his suit.

State security agents immediately rounded up all journalists covering the event and ordered them to delete Mr. Mugabe's images.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba refused to discuss the incident saying this had nothing to do with the media.

Mr. Mugabe frequently visits the Far East for routine medical check-ups for an undisclosed ailment though Charamba has told the media that the president has a problem with his right eye.

Obert Gutu, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, say Mr. Mugabe is now old and should step down.

But former leader of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Pride Mkono, said Mugabe's falling was nothing spectacular.

Meanwhile, Zanu PF has posted on its Twitter page a message that reads, quote, "Please don't allow rumours and lies, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe did not fall. He was doing a bounce like the kids do," end quote.

Veteran journalist David Masunda also slammed Mr. Mugabe's security aides for ordering journalists to delete Mr. Mugabe's images saying this was tantamount to muzzling the press.

Journalists have always complained that the Zanu PF government ill-treats them during assignments.

Before falling, Mr. Mugabe told his supporters that he was happy to take over the AU chairmanship and pledged to work hard for the continent's development.

Mr. Mugabe will chair the African Union for one year after taking the position from Mauritania's president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

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