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Mugabe Threatens Zimbabwe Opposition
Peta Thornycroft
14 Jun 2003, 15:10 UTC

Hopes by the opposition that Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe might step down have been dashed. Mr. Mugabe has appeared at political rallies in his rural strongholds, threatening to come down even harder on the opposition.

The man said to have been selected by Mr. Mugabe as his successor, parliamentary speaker Emerson Mnangagwa, said Saturday he has no ambition to be the next president of Zimbabwe.

At the same time, Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change, confirmed that there have been no negotiations between the MDC and the ruling Zanu-PF about a way out of the political impasse.

He said there had been uncoordinated approaches from many organizations, including church groups, but nothing had so far materialized.

Mr. Mugabe, who is 79, has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence 23 years ago. He told supporters at a political rally in the southwestern town of Nyamandlovu that he would not tolerate any more demonstrations by the MDC. Hundreds of MDC supporters were arrested during nationwide strikes and protests organized last week.

The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was also arrested and charged with treason. He has spent the past week in jail. His lawyers say they hope he will be granted bail Monday.

On Thursday Mr. Mugabe upped the political stakes by lashing out at Britain's High Commissioner, Sir Brian Donnelly, accusing him of supporting the opposition's general strike and protests which continued for five days.

In the rally in Matabeleland province, Mr. Mugabe accused whites of refusing to accept black rule. His government launched a controversial land reform program three years ago, forcing many white farmers off their land and handing the farms over to blacks.

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