'Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe not asleep, just resting his eyes'

File photo shows Robert Mugabe attending a State Dinner for the Africa-France Summit; his eyes are closed, apparently to avoid  bright lights. Pic/AFP
File photo shows Robert Mugabe attending a State Dinner for the Africa-France Summit; his eyes are closed, apparently to avoid  bright lights. Pic/AFP

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (93), is not asleep when he closes his eyes for long periods in public events but is resting his eyes from bright lights, his spokesman clarified yesterday.

Mugabe has regularly had his eyes closed at recent appearances, including when he appeared on a discussion panel at last week's World Economic Forum meeting in South Africa. "I feel like a failure when there is this reading that the President is sleeping in conferences, no," his spokesman George Charamba was quoted as saying in the state-run Herald newspaper. "At 93, there is something that happens to the eyes and the President cannot suffer bright lights. If you look at his poise, he looks down, avoids direct lighting."

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