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Zimbabwe President Blasts Critics at Independence Anniversary Celebration


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has marked his nation's independence day by issuing new threats against the opposition and blaming the nation's economic crisis on greed by businessmen and alleged saboteurs.

Mr. Mugabe addressed at least 30,000 supporters Wednesday during celebrations in Harare marking the 27th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence from Britain.

The president used the occasion to warn that his government will "deal firmly" with elements he said are trying to create anarchy.

He also described leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change as puppets of the west.

Government forces broke up an opposition rally last month, detaining and beating several of the movement's leaders. The crackdown prompted an international outcry.

Dissent has been rising in Zimbabwe as people try to cope with shortages of food and fuel, and an annual inflation rate in excess of 1,700 percent.

Critics blame the crisis on government economic policies, while President Mugabe has blamed sanctions imposed by Britain and the United States against Zimbabwean officials.

Wednesday's rally was held in the football stadium where Zimbabwe's first independence celebrations took place in 1980.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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