Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- President Robert Mugabe scoffed Saturday at calls for him to retire, saying he will remain in power until his Zanu PF party wins elections he has called for next year to end the country's power-sharing government.
"I will continue to lead the party as I have done," the 87-year-old said after his party endorsed him as its candidate for the next presidential election. "At times, there comes a call to retire. I say, unless I have finished my job, I will not ...
"It would be completely wrong when the West ... is working for regime change and we are still in this coalition government," he said at the end of a three-day conference attended by about 5,000 delegates in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. "It will be an act of cowardice. I am not a coward, no matter what kind of threats the West make. I am here and I was here."
Mugabe, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, has been in power since 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence from England. He said he wanted an election to be held next year to end the coalition government he formed in 2009 with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
"We're preparing a grave for this monster; we must now see its death," he said in Bulawayo, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Harare. "Let us now start preparing for elections, digging the grave for this monster. Never, ever again to come back."
The then-opposition leader Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the first-round vote in 2008, but pulled out of a second round, citing violence against his Movement for Democratic Change supporters from Zanu PF militia.
That resulted in regional leaders forcing the two former political foes to forge a power-sharing government.
Since then, Zimbabwe's economy, which had been in a free fall since 1998, has been recovering, but the two groups have continued to disagree on a number of matters.