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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007, 01:24 GMT
Mugabe threatens to expel envoys
Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe has rejected criticism of the violence from Western nations
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has threatened to expel Western diplomats whom he accuses of supporting the political opposition.

The veteran leader said diplomats who wanted to represent their countries had to "behave properly" or they would be thrown out.

His government has faced criticism after opposition activists who tried to stage a rally in Harare were beaten.

But the authorities say opposition protesters caused the violence.

Earlier in the day, the bruised and bandaged opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, left hospital in a wheelchair.

He says he was beaten in police custody after his arrest at the rally. Four of his colleagues remain in hospital.

'Kick them out'

There has been a strong international reaction to the beatings inflicted by the police on members of the opposition last Sunday.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai leaving hospital

UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has said she holds Mr Mugabe personally responsible for Mr Tsvangirai's injuries.

The British envoy to the UN called for the Security Council to be briefed on developments in Zimbabwe.

Emyr Jones Parry said he sought a briefing because of "the impossibility of the present situation".

But South Africa's UN ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, expressed surprise at the call.

"It's not a matter of threatening international peace and security," he said.

The US has said it is considering extending its sanctions on Zimbabwean officials.

Mr Mugabe has rejected the criticism and blamed the opposition for instigating the violence.

He used a meeting with members of his ruling party's youth wing to hit out at diplomats.

"We will kick them out of this country," the French news agency AFP quoted him as saying.

"I have asked the minister of foreign affairs to summon them and read the riot act to them," he said.

"We shall tell the ambassadors that this is not a country which is a piece of Europe."

Earlier, Mr Tsvangirai told the BBC that the government had miscalculated, as it was seen more than ever as a "rogue regime".

Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for 27 years, but there is increasing discontent over the country's economic crisis.

More than 80% of Zimbabweans are living in poverty, with chronic unemployment and inflation running at more than 1,700% - the highest in the world.

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