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President of Zimbawe Robert Mugabe gestures as he addresses supporters of his ruling ZANU (PF) party at Harare International Airport, Zimbabwe, Sept. 24, 2016.Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

A bitter and defiant Robert Mugabe, admitting he has fallen into isolation since he was toppled from power in Zimbabwe’s military coup, has hinted that he might support an opposition party in an election this year.

The 94-year-old former dictator, speaking to the media for the first time since the military takeover in November, was a frail and lonely figure in his luxurious mansion as he complained that the coup was “illegal” and a “disgrace.”

Mr. Mugabe said he was betrayed by his long-time comrade, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who won the support of the military and swiftly ascended to the presidency after the coup.

The two men had fought on the same side in the guerrilla war against Rhodesia’s white-minority regime in the 1960s and seventies, and Mr. Mnangagwa had become Mr. Mugabe’s right-hand man for 27 years in government, until the president sacked him in a factional dispute last year.

“I brought him into government,” Mr. Mugabe said. “I never thought he whom I had nurtured and brought into government, and whose life I had worked so hard to save in prison when he was threatened with hanging, that one day he would be the man who turned against me.”

He spoke slowly in his trademark monologue style, rambling across decades of history as he dwelled on memories of past glories. He sat alone at a desk in his mansion, with a large portrait of himself on the wall behind him. Excerpts from the interview were broadcast on SABC, the South African state broadcaster, one of several media invited to the group interview in Harare on Thursday.

It was the first time Mr. Mugabe has spoken in public since the coup. He has been largely reclusive since his forced resignation, his movements reportedly vetted and controlled by the military.

At the beginning of the interview, Mr. Mugabe was introduced by a spokesman for a new opposition party, the National Patriotic Front, which seems to have forged an informal alliance with him. The NPF is led by a former Mugabe cabinet minister, retired brigadier-general Ambrose Mutinhiri, who quit the ruling party this month. A recent NPF press release featured a photo of its leader meeting Mr. Mugabe at the former president’s villa last week.

In the interview, Mr. Mugabe denied he would become an NPF candidate in the election, but confirmed that he might support the NPF if he agrees with its policies.

After assuming the presidency, Mr. Mnangagwa has repeatedly lauded Mr. Mugabe and promised to safeguard his security and income. But that doesn’t seem enough to placate the former dictator.

Mr. Mugabe said he doesn’t “hate” the new President, but described him as “improper” and “illegal” in his position.

“It was a coup d’état,” Mr. Mugabe said. “Some people refuse to call it that. He could never have assumed the presidency of the country without the army. The army made sure that the other organs of state were completely neutralized.”

The army confiscated the guns of the police and “bashed” the agents of the national intelligence agency, some of whom are still missing today, he said.

The coup began when the army rolled out “ancient” tanks that “we never knew we had,” Mr. Mugabe said. “People were not allowed to move from one place to another, unless they got the permission of the army. Searches were taking place – left, right and centre. Persons were being arrested. It was truly a military takeover.”

Mr. Mugabe said he is willing to meet Mr. Mnangagwa to discuss a return to “constitutionality.” But he added: “I must be invited, properly invited, for that discussion … We must undo this disgrace, which we have imposed on ourselves. We don’t deserve this. Please, we don’t deserve it.”

Mr. Mugabe denied responsibility for massacres in the 1980s that killed an estimated 20,000 people in a dissident region. Asked about his human-rights record, he said: “Some errors were done. They weren’t that bad in comparison to other countries.”

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