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Zimbabwe's President Mugabe Calls for End to Inter-Party Violence


President Robert Mugabe has appealed for an end to political violence in Zimbabwe as the country marks 30 years of independence.

Addressing a ceremony in Harare Sunday, Mr. Mugabe said Zimbabwe's government wants people to "desist from any acts of violence that will cause harm to others and become a blight on our society."

Mr. Mugabe did not mention any names or parties, but human rights groups have long accused his ZANU-PF party of beating, torturing, and killing supporters of the longtime opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The parties are now in a unity government formed after the disputed and violence-plagued 2008 elections.

The sides remain at odds over multiple issues, including a law that would require all businesses in Zimbabwe to hand over a majority stake to local blacks.

Mr. Mugabe said Sunday that the program would remain in place. He said the program and the controversial land seizures of the past decade are examples of "empowerment" designed to fix historic imbalances in the economy.

Mr. Mugabe was a leader in the guerilla war that resulted in Zimbabwe winning independence from Britain on April 18, 1980.

He was once hailed as one of Africa's most progressive leaders, but has seen his popularity wane since 2000 when his government began a land-redistribution campaign. Mr. Mugabe's widely-condemned seizures of land from white farmers triggered a sharp drop in food production and severely damaged the country's economy.

The 86-year-old president is Africa's oldest head of state. Despite his age and political setbacks, Mr. Mugabe has said he will seek re-election in 2013 if he has his party's support.

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

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