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Robert Mugabe rallies Zanu-PF party in Zimbabwe

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Mugabe issues rallying call to his Zanu-PF party

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has urged his Zanu-PF party supporters to be defiant, saying the party is still a strong force.

During a rally in Harare, he said the country's unity government had a short life span and his own party must not lose the next parliamentary elections.

The 85-year-old made his call to 10,000 delegates after being re-elected as the party's leader on Saturday.

A new date for national elections has not yet been set.

The party has been severely weakened after losing its parliamentary majority in elections held last year.

'Ideologically incompatible'

Instead, Mr Mugabe had to accept a power-sharing deal with his former rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

However that arrangement has only another year to run.

Speaking at the close of Zanu-PF's fifth congress he said the party was ideologically incompatible with the MDC, and the party must mend its divisions to recover lost ground.

He said: ""We go back much stronger, a better focused party, ready and raring to go to take on issues that confront us, even problematic ones."

He said the party had to work together, so they were "ready for elections" and "must not be defeated" like they were last year.

Delegate at Zanu-PF rally in Harare
Approximately 10,000 delegates listened to Robert Mugabe's call

"We must win resoundingly and regain the constituents we lost," he said.

The BBC's Southern Africa correspondent Karen Allen in Harare says much of the debate these past few days has focused on factionalism and claims that individual personalities are seeking to undermine the party for their own personal gain.

She says Mr Mugabe's speech was defensive and peppered with references to foreign meddling in Zimbabwe's affairs.

He said that "any manoeuvres to tamper with the forces will never be entertained" by his party, Reuters reported.

Joice Mujuru was re-elected as second vice-president, while John Nkomo took on the other vice-presidential role.

Simon Khaya Moyo, the country's current ambassador to South Africa, is now the Zanu-PF chairman.



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