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Mugabe Says Zimbabwe Will Not Change Course

On the occasion of Zimbabwe's anniversary of independence, President Robert Mugabe has indicated that both he and his Zanu PF party intend to continue running the country. Mr. Mugabe's independence day speech comes almost three weeks after the presidential election, but the results have still not been released. Peta Thornycroft reports for the VOA.

This was Mr. Mugabe's first major speech since the heavily disputed elections on March 29.

In the address, he accused Britain of fomenting post-election violence. More than 200 people across the country have been assaulted in the last week. They have blamed ZANU-PF for their injuries, according to human rights monitors.

Mr. Mugabe has long accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai of being puppets of Britain.

Mr. Mugabe made clear that the status quo will remain. He said whites who thought they could come back and reclaim their land are wrong.

He said veterans of the liberation war heard that whites were coming back after the elections and had taken up guns to defend the land. But he said the police are now managing the situation.

He said Zimbabwe will continue to defend its sovereignty and voters in the recent elections should know that the country will continue along the path it has taken since independence.

In the elections three weeks ago, ZANU-PF narrowly lost its parliamentary majority after 28 years in power but 23 of those results are due to be recounted Saturday. In his speech, Mr. Mugabe did not refer to the extraordinary delay in announcing results from the presidential poll.

He did, however, thank the Southern African Development Community for its role in assisting Zimbabwe in holding the presidential, parliamentary, senate and local government elections sumultaneously.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called on the SADC to ask Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa to mediate in the Zimbabwe crisis.

At present South African president Thabo Mbeki is still the mediator although inter-party talks broke down in December and Zimbabweans went to the elections without the new constitution they had been promised.

Although Mr. Mbeki has called on Zimbabwe's government to release the presidential results, the South African president has also said there is no crisis in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's inflation is now a staggering 165,000 percent, and most supermarkets are running out of stocks.