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The BBC's Grant Ferrett in Harare
"It's more bad news for President Mugabe, who is clearly anxious"
 real 28k

President Robert Mugabe
"Ian Smith and other whites who participated in the slaughter, murder and genocide of our people will stand trial"
 real 28k

Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith
"[Mugabe] should be put on trial for genocide"
 real 56k

Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Mugabe under pressure
Zimbabwe riot police vehicles approach a burning barricade in Mabvuku
Zimbabwe has been in turmoil since the June elections
Zimbabwe's parliament has agreed to appoint a special committee to consider President Robert Mugabe's removal from office.

Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa said he was satisfied that the impeachment motion by the opposition had met constitutional requirements and would be considered by parliament.

Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe says whites are trying to topple him
"I shall proceed to appoint a committee, the composition of which shall be announced later," Mr Mnangagwa told parliament on Thursday.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is pressing for the impeachment of President Mugabe, who has threatened genocide trials for whites including former minority white ruler, Ian Smith.

The BBC's correspondent in Harare, Grant Ferrett, says the motion is unlikely to succeed, but it focuses attention on President Mugabe's role in the collapse of the rule of law and the country's economy.

Smith's challenge

In an angry outburst before cheering supporters of his ruling Zanu-PF party on Wednesday, President Mugabe said the country's national reconciliation policy was being revoked to pave the way for genocide trials.

Ian Smith
Ian Smith called President Mugabe a "gangster"
"The whites, including Smith, will now stand trial for the genocide in this country. The Americans are still chasing after the Nazis and we will also start looking for the whites who fought with Smith. They must be arrested," Mr Mugabe said.

But speaking in London on Thursday, Mr Smith, 81, welcomed the threat of a trial in Zimbabwe.

"I welcome it. I would love that. Let him try it. If he wants to make a fool of himself, that is his business", said Mr Smith.

"It would give me the chance to tell the world the truth about this gangster. Our country is in total anarchy," he said.

Mr Smith led white Rhodesians in a unilateral declaration of independence from Britain in 1965.

After a seven-year civil war against guerrillas led by Mr Mugabe and other black leaders, Mr Smith was forced into a ceasefire and political settlement in 1979.

Mbeki's condemnation

As opinion polls in Zimbabwe show President Mugabe's increasing unpopularity, South African President Thabo Mbeki strongly condemned him for disregarding the rule of law.

SA President Thabo Mbeki
Mbeki condemns Mugabe for disregarding rule of law
"This conflict is wrong. This approach, this occupation of farms, the seizure of farms, the disregard for the law, these things are wrong, these things must be addressed," Mr Mbeki said.

He said it was up to the people of Zimbabwe to decide "whether the elected president of Zimbabwe continues to be the elected president of Zimbabwe".

It was Mr Mbeki's strongest attack yet on President Mugabe's policy of seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to black smallholders.

Mr Mugabe accuses white Zimbabweans of trying to destabilise the country by backing the MDC.

The president has also singled out the white MDC parliamentarians David Coltart and Mike Auret for arrest and said they would not be "spared."

But Mr Coltart said amnesties signed in 1980 covered him and others - including Mr Smith - and that Mr Mugabe's planned genocide trial would be against the law.

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See also:

18 Oct 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe: Economic melt-down
18 Oct 00 | Africa
Third day of protests in Zimbabwe
17 Oct 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe riots intensify
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