Landmarks in Robert Mugabe's life

1924 Robert Gabriel Mugabe is born in Kutama, Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia).

1945 He leaves St Francis Xavier College, Kutama, having qualified as a teacher.

1949 Obtains scholarship to University College of Fort Hare, South Africa.

1957 Moves to Ghana; meets his future wife, Sally Hayfron.

1960 Gives first political speech while home on holiday. Joins National Democratic Party under Joshua Nkomo, becoming publicity secretary.

1961 Marries Sally Hayfron. Zimbabwe African People's Union formed to replace banned NDP.

1962 Zapu banned; restrictions placed on leaders.

1963 Zimbabwe African National Union formed as rival to Zapu.

1964 Mugabe and others detained.

1966 Three-year-old Nhamo Mugabe dies in Ghana; imprisoned Mugabe is denied permission to attend his son's funeral.

1974 Detainees released from prison for settlement talks.

1975 Herbert Chitepo, head of Zanu in exile, is assassinated in Zambia. Mugabe and Edgar Tekere leave Rhodesia to join guerrillas in Mozambique.

1977 Mugabe gains control of Zanu.

1978 Zanu military leader Rex Nhongo (aka Solomon Mujuru) crushes internal revolt aimed at toppling Mugabe.

1979 Lancaster House conference takes place in London. Zanu's military leader Josiah Tongogara dies.

1980 Mugabe becomes prime minister of independent Zimbabwe.

1981 Apartheid South Africa embarks on campaign to destabilise Mugabe.

1982 Nkomo sacked from government following discovery of arms caches in Matabeleland. Mugabe unleashes North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in a brutal campaign against dissidents.

1987 Mugabe and Nkomo sign Unity Accord, merging to form Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. Mugabe changes constitution, becoming executive president.

1988 War veterans launch campaign for recognition of role in liberating Zimbabwe. "Willowgate" corruption scandal exposed.

1990 Nelson Mandela released from prison in South Africa. World Bank's Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) begins in Zimbabwe.

1992 Sally Mugabe dies of kidney failure.

1995 Street riots in Harare against rising prices and unemployment.

1996 Mugabe marries his secretary Grace Marufu in lavish ceremony at Kutama.

1997 New Labour government under Tony Blair wins UK election.

1998 Mugabe sends troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo to intervene in the civil war and plunder its riches.

1999 Repressive action against Zimbabwe's media and judiciary increases. Movement for Democratic Change is formed. Relations with Britain deteriorate.

2000 Constitutional reforms rejected by electorate. Squatters seize white-owned farms. Zanu-PF wins narrow victory against MDC in parliamentary elections.

2002 Parliament passes law limiting press freedom. European Union imposes limited sanctions. Mugabe re-elected in polls condemned as flawed .

2004 Leader of the MDC Morgan Tsvangirai acquitted of treason charges.

2005 Zanu-PF wins two-thirds of votes in parliamentary election. Urban "clean up" programme leaves thousands homeless.

2007 MDC leaders hospitalised after rally arrests. Power cuts throughout Zimbabwe. Inflation soars. Zanu-PF and MDC hold talks in South Africa.

2008 In March, the first-ever defeat for Mugabe in a parliamentary election.