Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe woos youth vote

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President Mugabe speakingImage source, EPA
Image caption,
Robert Mugabe urged those vying to succeed him to be patient

Zimbabwe's 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe has begun a series of rallies across the country in a bid to win the support of young people ahead of elections next year.

A huge crowd gathered for Friday's rally in a stadium at Marondera, a small town east of the capital, Harare, the state-run Herald newspaper reports.

It adds that the president is planning nine other similar rallies this year.

Mr Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and is due to run again in 2018.

At the rally, he told those who are vying to succeed him to "be at peace".

He added: "The time will come, it's certainly coming".

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
The people at the rally were eager to greet the president
Image source, EPA
Image caption,
This is the first of 10 rallies the president is hoping to address

The country has a youthful population with more than 70% under 35, according to the last census.

There have been some recent concerns about the president's health. He has been seen sleeping at several recent meetings but his spokesman said he was resting his eyes.