Mugabe spits out his defiance as African nations break ranks with him
‘Only God will remove me!’
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Rowan Philp and Dominic Mahlangu The Times
Pressure from Africa and abroad is piling up on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe ahead of Friday’s presidential run-off.
But, ever-immune to criticism, the ageing dictator continued with his hardline rhetoric this week.
Addressing local business people in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, on Friday, Mugabe insisted he would not step aside for the Movement for Democratic Change, which beat his Zanu-PF party in the parliamentary and first-round presidential poll on March 29.
“The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country — never ever,” he declared.
“Only God, who appointed me, will remove me — not the MDC, not the British. Only God will remove me!”
Mugabe’s violent campaign to maintain his grip on power has led to the opposition MDC edging towards pulling out of the election.
His belligerence has also led to:
· Several African countries, including some of Zimbabwe’s neighbours, finally breaking ranks to slam him;
· A United Nations appeal to South Africa to act;
· Election observers indicating it was unlikely the run-off would be declared free and fair; and
· Western countries declaring that they were seriously considering charging Mugabe with war crimes.
Pressure was also being brought to bear on South Africa, with President Thabo Mbeki isolated in his unwavering support for Mugabe — even in his own cabinet.