Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is taking new shots at the West, saying Britain should put out the fires in London, and the United States should attend to its financial problems and leave Zimbabwe alone. Mugabe was speaking Tuesday at the defense forces day military parade, which is part of the annual recognition of those who fought to end minority white rule more than 30 years ago.
Mugabe told the gathering of Zimbabwe's defense forces that Zimbabwe did not have any fires and that western countries should mind their own business.
"Britain I understand is on fire, London especially," said Mugabe. "And we hope they can extinguish their fire, pay attention to the general problem and that fire which is blazing all over and leave us alone, because we do not have any fire here and we do not want them to create any unnecessary problems in our country."
Britain, Europe, and the United States have accused Mugabe of serious human rights abuses and of persecuting those pushing for democracy and free and fair elections. He says the West should mind its own business instead of accusing countries which have economic problems of lacking freedom.
"Let them, those in Europe attend to their problems, those in America attend to their internal problems, and now that they are experiencing problems which have dogged other countries before, and they have in those circumstances accuse these countries of lacking freedom, let them tell us what's happening whether it is lack of freedom or it is something else," Mugabe added.
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have strongly criticized the NATO bombing of Libya and said that NATO was behaving like al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He has regularly told Zimbabweans that the West wants to impose what he calls regime change.
"NATO has now a lot to do in Europe, please leave us alone now," said Mugabe.
He told the defense forces at the parade that the economy is in poor shape because of Western restrictions against him and his colleagues in ZANU-PF and some key state companies.
"These sanctions continue to hurt our people in various ways and they affect the economy from which they derive income and also the state derives revenue, and once again we appeal to those who have imposed sanctions to heed our call that the sanctions, the sanctions should go," Mugabe explained.
He said the poor economy meant that members of the defense forces were underpaid and had poor working conditions.
Top Zimbabwean generals regularly refuse to salute Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party and prime minister in the inclusive government, because they say he was not part of the struggle to end white rule.
Tsvangirai was not at the annual heroes' day celebration, as he was attending the funeral of a top MDC leader, Eliphas Mukonoweshore, who was public services minister and who died last Friday.