June 17, 2008 in Nation/World

Mugabe threatens to hold onto power

Angus Shaw Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe gives a speech Saturday in Harare. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

HARARE, Zimbabwe – President Robert Mugabe, campaigning for re-election in a presidential runoff June 27, warned he would not cede power to Western-backed opponents, the state media reported Monday.

“We shed a lot of blood for this country. We are not going to give up our country for a mere X on a ballot. How can a ball point pen fight with a gun?” the Herald, a government mouthpiece, quoted Mugabe as saying.

Speaking in the local Shona language in the central Silobela district Sunday, Mugabe said that the nation threw off colonial domination in a guerrilla war in 1980, and his party was ready to fight again to stop the pro-Western Movement for Democratic Change from gaining control of the government, the paper reported.

U.N. special envoy Haile Menkerios arrived in the Zimbabwean capital Harare Monday evening. He is expected to meet with Mugabe and to assess the political situation and upcoming elections.

The secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change – the party’s No. 2 – continued to be held in the notoriously harsh police jail in western Harare, his lawyer said.

Tendai Biti did not make a scheduled appearance in court Monday on treason allegations. Biti had yet to be asked to make a formal written “warned and cautioned” statement, which is needed before he can be arraigned, said lawyer Lewis Uriri.

Uriri said police have added two extra charges under the security laws – insulting the president and making statements intended to bring about disaffection in the police and security forces, both carrying the penalty of imprisonment or fine.

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