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Mugabe Rails Against Defeated Rivals in Zimbabwe Elections

Mugabe Rails Against Defeated Rivals in Zimbabwe Elections

Published: 13 August 2013

In his first public speech since the July 31 election, Mr. Mugabe spoke at the annual Heroes’ Day gathering at a national shrine in Harare, the capital, that honors guerrillas killed in the war against white-minority rule in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before 1980.

Speaking in the local Shona language, Mr. Mugabe called on his main challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, the departing prime minister, to accept defeat, then dismissed him and his followers in scathing language.

“Those who are smarting from defeat can commit suicide if they so wish,” Mr. Mugabe said. “But I tell them even dogs will not sniff at their flesh if they choose to die that way.”

He described Mr. Tsvangirai as the “enemy” in his party’s midst during the shaky coalition brokered by regional leaders after the 2008 presidential election. That election was also disputed and, unlike the recent voting, was marked by widespread violence against opposition supporters.

Mr. Mugabe won last month’s election with 61 percent of the vote, Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has announced, with Mr. Tsvangirai getting 34 percent. Mr. Tsvangirai, who claims the voting was marred by widespread rigging and is challenging the results in court, stayed away from Monday’s gathering.

“We have thrown the enemy away like garbage,” Mr. Mugabe said. “They say we have rigged, but they are thieves,” he added, referring to accusations of corruption against his rivals. “We say to them: You are never going to rise again.”

Mr. Tsvangirai said in a message to his supporters that Zimbabweans were “still shocked by the brazen manner in which their vote was stolen.”

“So many sons and daughters of this country sacrificed their lives,” he said, “and one of the fundamental rights they toiled at, died for, was the right to vote.”

Mr. Mugabe insisted that Zimbabweans had voted freely: “We are delivering democracy on a platter. Never will we go back on our victory.”

Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, won 158 seats in Parliament versus 50 for Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. Mr. Mugabe accuses the M.D.C. of receiving money and support from Britain, the United States and other Western nations.

African Union election observers have cautiously approved the vote but are still compiling their final report. The Southern African Development Community, a regional political and economic bloc, judged the voting to have been peaceful and credible but has yet to pronounce it fair.

Western nations, prevented by Mr. Mugabe from sending observers, have condemned the vote for irregularities in voters’ lists and in election procedures. Independent local observers also complained of irregularities.

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