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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 July, 2003, 07:00 GMT 08:00 UK
Mugabe tells Bush: Don't interfere
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe's president says he will not be dictated to
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has warned US President George W Bush not to interfere in his country's affairs during a visit to Africa next week.

Mr Mugabe told supporters that if Mr Bush told African countries how to run their affairs, he would be spurned.

The American president is due in South Africa on Tuesday as part of a tour of several African countries, including Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and Senegal.

Last week George Bush called on South Africa President's Thabo Mbeki to insist on fresh elections in Zimbabwe and "insist that the conditions necessary for that country to become prosperous again are in place".

Commentators say Mr Bush wants to demonstrate that the US is not neglecting the welfare of the world's poor while waging its war on terrorism.

Quiet diplomacy

Mr Mugabe told supporters at a rally in southern Zimbabwe that "any dictating to us will never be heeded by any of us in this region".

If he is coming to dictate to us to how we should run our countries, then we will say go back. Go home Yankee
President Robert Mugabe

"If he is coming to dictate to us to how we should run our countries, then we will say Go back. Go home Yankee," he said.

Mr Mugabe has said he is not worried about pressure from the US. He has told members of his ruling Zanu party, President Bush would not dare do to Zimbabwe what he has done to Iraq.

"We don't have oil or weapons of mass destruction" he said in a televised speech.

The US and Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) rejected Mr Mugabe's victory in presidential elections last year, saying the poll was rigged and marred by violence.

The opposition party says it will send a team to lobby American officials during Mr Bush's visit.

Waiting for change

They blame Mr Mugabe's government for the country's economic turmoil which has led to food and fuel shortages and 80% of the country's 11.6 million people estimated to be living in poverty.

The official mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, suspended from his post by the government because he is an MDC member, says Mr Mugabe's government has a limited time left in power.

He told the BBC: "Definitely change will come - everything is in a shambles right now.

"The government has demonstrated that there is nothing for the people of Zimbabwe for the future. You can see from the present policies that they have nothing.

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