Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe has refused to back his successor just a day before the country’s historic Monday vote.
Mr Mugabe addressed the nation for the first time since stepping down in November and declared that “I will not vote for those who have illegally taken power.”
Referring to current president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took office with the military’s support, the 94-year-old told reporters on Sunday: “I cannot vote for those who have tormented me.”
Mr Mugabe gave a slow and rambling address that at times betrayed his lingering bitterness and anger over his dramatic removal under military pressure and amid a ruling party feud last year.
He blamed “evil and malicious characters” for his resignation, which was met with a joyous outpouring by thousands of people in the capital, Harare, and elsewhere.
“I was a fool to have him next to me,” he said of Mr Mnangagwa, whom he accused of conniving with the military chief to pull off a “coup”.
Mr Mugabe said he resigned to avoid “bloodshed” and defended his wife, Grace, who had appeared to be positioning herself to take over.
He swore he would not support the ruling party he controlled for decades at the polls, saying: “I cannot vote for ZANU-PF”.
Mr Mnangagawa faces a 40-year-old lawyer and pastor Nelson Chamisa in the battle for power.
Mugabe has backed a new political party that is part of the coalition supporting Chamisa.
“He seems to be doing well at his rallies … I wish to meet him if he wins,” Mugabe said of the lawyer.
Mr Mugabe led the country for 37 years after independence from white minority rule in 1980.
Overtime, repression of the opposition, alleged vote-rigging, violent land seizures from white farmers arose.
Many hope the sanctions imposed as a result of those actions will be lifted off the back of credible elections tomorrow.
Mr Mugabe, who appeared to have allowed his hair to go grey, added: “Whoever wins, we wish him well … And let us accept the verdict.”