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Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 16:18 UK

Mugabe aide tells West: 'Go hang'

Mugabe spokesman clashes with the media

A spokesman for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has rejected Western criticism of the country's disputed presidential run-off election.

At an African Union summit in Egypt, George Charamba said the West had no basis to speak about the situation - and can "go hang a thousand times".

Zanu-PF's Robert Mugabe said he had won the vote, boycotted by the opposition.

The opposition MDC said Friday's one-man election had killed off any prospect of a negotiated settlement.

Tendai Biti, the Movement for Democratic Change's secretary-general who faces treason charges in Zimbabwe, said the country's "sham election" last week "totally and completely exterminated any prospect of a negotiated settlement".

He denied any negotiations were going on between the two parties, or that an agreement was in the offing.

"There are recent widespread reports that Zanu-PF and MDC are talking and are about to conclude an agreement to form a government of national unity," said Mr Biti.

"Nothing could be as malicious and as further from the truth."

The run-off was widely criticised by Western leaders as not being free or fair.

'Evolving dialogue'

Earlier, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai left the Dutch embassy in Harare, where he had taken refuge after pulling out of Friday's vote because of election violence.

He had decided the situation was calm enough to return home, the Dutch foreign ministry official said.

One of them grabbed my arm and flung me to the ground... They dragged me by my hair to where my husband was lying
Angela Campbell
Wife of Zimbabwe farmer

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says he won the presidential election outright in March, but government officials said he did not secure enough votes to avoid a run-off.

Briefing reporters on the fringes of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, Mr Charamba was asked whether Zimbabwe should follow Kenya and create a government of national unity.

"Kenya is Kenya. Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe," he responded.

"We have our own history of evolving dialogue and resolving political impasses the Zimbabwean way. The Zimbabwean way, not the Kenyan way. Not at all."

Leaders taking part in the AU summit in Sharm el-Sheikh are discussing a draft resolution calling for a Zimbabwean government of national unity, Reuters news agency reports.

'Denied rights'

African leaders have faced growing pressure to take a strong stand against Zimbabwe's president.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare, 27 June 2008
Mr Tsvangirai was arrested several times ahead of the run-off

Sierra Leonean President Ernest Koroma told the BBC he strongly condemned Zimbabwe's flawed electoral process.

"We believe the people of Zimbabwe have been denied their democratic rights," he said.

Mr Koroma expressed support for a South African initiative to encourage the formation of a transitional government of national unity.

"We would urge the South African group to ensure they engage both parties to form a transitional government that prepares Zimbabwe for fresh elections."

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga urged the AU to suspend Mr Mugabe until he allowed free and fair elections.

But Africa's longest serving leader, Gabon President Omar Bongo, said Mr Mugabe should be accepted as the country's elected president.

Botswana's Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani suggested an interim national unity government could pave the way for new elections.

"We think there should be a way forward where both Mugabe and Tsvangirai will be brought together so that they can talk and hopefully form a government of national unity which will be understood to be interim and to prepare for elections," he said.

Farmers beaten

The US has outlined a draft Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe and Italy has recalled its ambassador to the country for consultations.

Ben Freeth describes the attack

In Zimbabwe, meanwhile, an elderly farmer, his wife and their son-in-law were found alive but badly beaten on Monday.

Mike Campbell, 75, his wife Angela, 66 and Ben Freeth had been kidnapped at gunpoint from their Harare farm by a heavily armed mob on Sunday.

When they were found, Mr Campbell had concussion and a broken collar-bone, one of his wife's arms was broken in two places, and Mr Freeth had been beaten on the soles of his feet.

Mrs Campbell said a mob of Zanu-PF supporters had attacked her with sticks, just as Mr Mugabe was being re-inaugurated as Zimbabwe's president.

"One of them grabbed my arm and flung me to the ground, hence I have a rather serious break in my upper arm," she said.

"They dragged me by my hair to where my husband was lying and they trussed us up with ropes lying on the gravel."

A friend of the family said the Campbells had been forced to sign a document withdrawing an appeal against the seizure of his farm.

'No threat'

Earlier, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN dismissed calls for sanctions against his country over pre-election violence.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Mugabe should be isolated and suspended from the AU
Joe, Malawi

Boniface Chidyausiku dubbed US-led calls for fresh UN measures against Zimbabwe a "non-issue".

Asked about sanctions, Mr Chidyausiku told AP news agency: "I'm not even bothered, I wouldn't lose sleep over it... We are not a threat to international peace and security."

Mr Tsvangirai defeated Mr Mugabe in the presidential vote on 29 March but failed to win an absolute majority.

He reluctantly agreed to participate in the 27 June run-off but withdrew blaming violence which he said had killed nearly 90 of his followers.


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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
CNN Zimbabwe govt.: UK can go hang - 3 hrs ago
Los Angeles TimesZimbabwe dismisses calls for a unity government - 4 hrs ago
Denver Post Zimbabwe president's spokesman to West: 'Go hang' - 4 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Mugabe regime tells western critics to 'go hang' - 4 hrs ago
Reuters African summit debates Zimbabwe unity government - 4 hrs ago
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