Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says the opposition must accept him
as the country's leader if it wants to hold talks on ending Zimbabwe's
Mr. Mugabe spoke at Harare airport Friday
after returning from a summit of African leaders who called for
Zimbabwe to form a national unity government following Mr. Mugabe's
controversial re-election last week.
Mr. Mugabe Friday said he is
open to dialogue but that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) must recognize him as president.
The longtime Zimbabwean leader was greeted by thousands of his supporters at the airport.
leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the June 27 presidential run
because of what he called systematic violence against his supporters.
He told VOA Studio 7 Zimbabwe this week that he will not enter any
talks with the government unless the violence stops.
says militants of the ruling ZANU-PF party have killed close to 90 of
its supporters in the days before, during, and after the runoff. Mr.
Mugabe and his allies deny the claims, and say the MDC has carried out
attacks against ZANU-PF members.
The European Union Friday called
for a new election in Zimbabwe as soon as possible, saying it cannot
accept the June 27 runoff results.
Botswana Friday repeated a
call for the Southern African Development Community not to recognize
Mr. Mugabe's re-election. But most other African governments and
leaders have declined to directly confront the 84-year-old president.
Mugabe is still widely respected in Africa as a liberation hero for his
role in Zimbabwe's war for independence from Britain. He has ruled
Zimbabwe since it became independent in 1980.
Critics blame him
for Zimbabwe's economic crisis, marked by an inflation rate that stands
officially at 160,000 percent but is believed to be much higher. Mr.
Mugabe blames Western sanctions directed at members of his government.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.