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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Says US And EU Sanctions Are 'Evil'

In his annual Heroes Day speech, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says U.S. and E.U. sanctions on Zimbabwe "evil."

In a holiday speech commemorating Zimbabwe's fallen heroes, President Robert Mugabe says his attempts to re-engage in negotiations with the United States and European Union were rebuffed and blamed the financial and travel restrictions they imposed for Zimbabwe's financial meltdown.

"Think again Europe. Think again America. You are wrong," he said. "But no sooner had we started the re-engagement, than we realized the European Union is far from being sincere. The European Union and America are keen to have the people suffering from evil sanctions. On what basis are the sanctions being continued?"

Mr. Mugabe claims the European Union and the United States keep "shifting goal posts" in their dealings. He spoke at Heroes Acre, a national shrine for loyalist politicians and fallen guerrillas from the liberation war that ended white rule in Zimbabwe in 1980.

Since a power-sharing deal formed a coalition government last year with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, Zimbabwe has campaigned for the lifting of travel, banking and business bans and other sanctions targeting only Mr. Mugabe and about 200 of his party leaders and associates.

Mr. Mugabe blames Western sanctions for the nation's economic hardships. But critics say the often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms Mr. Mugabe ordered since 2000 disrupted the agriculture-based economy.

On Sunday, in an emotional and angry address at the state funeral of his sister Sabina, 83, Mr. Mugabe attacked the West once again.

Sabina Mugabe, who retired from Parliament in 2008, was buried at Heroes Acre.

But there is growing debate about whether she should have been awarded the honor. While she was declared a national heroine by the ruling party, others accused her of benefiting from Zimbabwe's controversial land reform program and encouraging the violent invasion of white-owned farms.

Aaron Muzungu of a new, small political party said many others who had died, but had fought more recently, for democracy in Zimbabwe, should also be named heroes.

"Those people who founded the MDC can also be awarded the hero status on condition that they are fighting for the freedom of Zimbabwe," said Muzungu. "If we look at Sabina Mugabe, Sabina Mugabe was given hero status only because she is sister to the president of this country. Sabina Mugabe is not in the history of the liberation struggle."

In a sign that tensions remain high between the Mugabe-led ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, Mr. Mugabe's security chiefs failed to stand up and salute Prime Minister Tsvangirai when he arrived and left the ceremony.

The prime minister has said that ZANU-PF has not fulfilled all conditions in the 22-month-old global political agreement that created the inclusive government.

Mr. Mugabe disagreed.

"Since the formation of the inclusive government in February last year, our commitment and determination to forge ahead in implementing the Global Political Agreement has been beyond reproach," he said.

Mr. Mugabe has conceded on the establishment of an independent electoral commission, a human-rights watchdog and the partial opening up of the media.

But critics say he retains sweeping presidential powers and security laws he has used to stifle opponents, and he commands military and police forces hostile to the Movemnet for Democratic Change.