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Mugabe Spokesman to Western Critics: Go Hang

A spokesman for Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has rejected criticism of the country's presidential election, saying those who call the vote illegitimate can 'go hang'. VOA's Peter Heinlein has details from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, where Mr. Mugabe is attending an African Union summit.

Zimbabwe's presidential spokesman George Charamba told reporters Tuesday the West has no right to judge the legitimacy of the election that returned Mr. Mugabe to power.

Many Western governments have described the election Friday as a sham because of widespread intimidation and because Mr. Mugabe's challenger had withdrawn. The United States has called Mr. Mugabe's inauguration illegitimate. But Charamba had harsh words for those critics, suggesting outsiders should mind their own business.

"They can go and hang. They can go and hang, a thousand times. They've no claim on Zimbabwe at all, and that's exactly the issue," he said.

Charamba was speaking on the sidelines of the African Union summit, where Mr. Mugabe was warmly received by many heads of state. The spokesman laughed off suggestions that his summit colleagues might try to persuade Mr. Mugabe to accept a Kenya-style power sharing agreement with his political rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

"He has come here as president of Zimbabwe. He will go home as president of Zimbabwe, and when you visit Zimbabwe, he will be there to see you as president of the people of Zimbabwe," said Charamba.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the MDC, has denied reports that any talks are under way with Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to form a government of national unity. The statement said "nothing can be as malicious or further from the truth."

Zimbabwe's political turmoil, and Mr. Mugabe's presence has completely overshadowed the business of this Red Sea resort summit. Discussions about meeting anti-poverty and development goals went virtually ignored. Seats were empty at a news conference to discuss the summit theme, providing Africa with clean water and sanitation.

An estimated 30 African heads of state and government attended the two-day summit.