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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Denounces Political Violence, Urges Tolerance


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has denounced political violence and urged fellow citizens to unite in rebuilding the nation. He made the remarks during ceremonies marking the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence.

President Robert Mugabe Sunday told a packed sports stadium in Harare that Zimbabweans need to foster an environment of tolerance and treat each other with dignity and respect.

"The leadership of the inclusive government urges you to desist from any acts of violence that will cause harm to others and become a blight on our society," he said. He was speaking at festivities commemorating the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence.

The partner in his power sharing government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, also attended the ceremony, but did not speak. Human-rights organizations have accused Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of using violence and intimidation in elections two years ago in order to retain its 30-year-long hold on power.

Mr. Tsvangiari's Movement for Democratic Change won a majority of parliamentary seats in the elections and he won the first round of the presidential vote. But Mr. Mugabe won the run-off election after Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew, citing a campaign of violence against his supporters. After months of negotiations, a power-sharing government was formed. It has stabilized the economy and reduced political tensions.

But the government has been troubled by disputes over political appointments, and efforts to draft a new constitution leading to new elections have been slowed by political in-fighting and a lack of funds. Mr. Mugabe said the constitutional process was back on course and urged his countrymen to support it.

"I wish to encourage all of you to support this program so that at the end of the day you will have the constitution that will always speak for you and genuinely protect your rights and heritage," said Mr. Mugabe.

The power-sharing government has also been divided over a ZANU-PF plan to transfer majority ownership of large companies to black Zimbabweans. The Indigenization plan, as it is called, is opposed by the MDC and has been postponed for discussion. Mr. Mugabe said the program would redress the historic economic imbalances.

"The Indigenization and Empowerment policy, for example, will broaden ownership and participation in the economy in a manner that recognizes the sovereign right of ownership of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe," he said.

Mr. Mugabe reiterated his long-standing call for an end to Western sanctions imposed on senior leaders of his party and companies owned by them. Mr. Tsvangirai and southern African leaders have also called for an end to the sanctions.

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