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Mugabe Vows to Continue Zimbabwe Land Reform

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has told supporters to accept the new unity government, but vowed to continue his controversial land reform program that seizes white-owned farms.

Mr. Mugabe said Saturday that in spite of the new government, there is no going back on the land reform program he began nearly 10 years ago. He said white owners must still vacate the farms.

The president dismissed farmers who had taken the issue to the Southern African Development Community, saying the regional body has no jurisdiction over Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe made the comments during his birthday celebration in the town of Chinhoyi, north of the capital, Harare.

Critics have condemned the lavish party as inappropriate in a country in the grip of an economic and humanitarian crisis.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai - a long-time rival of Mr. Mugabe - did not attend the party, despite earlier reports he would be there.

Mr. Tsvangirai had criticized the president's birthday parties in the past, saying they waste money in a country crippled by poverty and food shortages. Supporters of the president raised $250,000 for the celebration.

Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Mugabe recently entered into a unity government under intense pressure from regional leaders.

Mr. Mugabe's chaotic land redistribution campaign, which began in 2000, caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.