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Last Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Zimbabweans pray for divine help
President Robert Mugabe, with church leaders last month
The prayers followed Mr Mugabe's meeting with church leader last month
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe adopted a rare tone of humility during Sunday's day of prayer - admitting to "failures" and asking for God's help.

He is normally a strident speaker, laying into his critics and blaming Zimbabwe's problems on Western plots.

He also said it was right for churches to point out government "shortcomings, sins of commission or omission".

Thousands of people joined the prayers in Harare but some church leaders boycotted the event.

Mr Mugabe, a Catholic, called the day of prayers after a delegation of church leaders met him last month to discuss Zimbabwe's political and economic problems.

When the church leaders start being political we regard them as political creatures - and we are vicious in that area
President Robert Mugabe
Inflation is running at more than 1,000% a year and most people do not have regular work.

The opposition blames Mr Mugabe and accuses him of rigging elections and harassing his critics to stay in power.

"We must accept our failures. We should have to acknowledge that as trustees in our part of the world we have not succeeded as we had wished," Mr Mugabe said at Glamis Stadium at Harare's Exhibition Park.

"Let the church come in and point out where there are shortcomings, sins of commission or omission. We must combine our strengths in rebuilding our economy deriving wisdom the Lord Almighty so that our country can prosper."

However, he also made a veiled threat against church leaders who become "political" - taken to mean the outspoken Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, who called for a boycott of the prayers.

"When the church leaders start being political we regard them as political creatures - and we are vicious in that area," Mr Mugabe said.

"The bishop is not dearer to God than the president... The fact of being a bishop does not make one a saint."


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