Mugabe scoffs at topple talk

December 19, 2008 12:00 am

, HARARE, Dec 19 – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has accused the United States of urging African nations to topple him, adding that none were "brave enough to do that," state media reported on Friday.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently called on Mugabe to step down and urged southern African states to pressure the 84-year-old leader to resolve the longstanding political deadlock in the country, ravished by a collapsed economy and deadly cholera epidemic.

Mugabe referred to what he said were "recent utterances by Condoleezza Rice that African leaders are not prepared to topple President Mugabe and bring about regime change," the Herald newspaper reported.

"She condemned this ability on the part of African leaders. How could African leaders ever topple Robert Mugabe, organise an army to come? It is not easy," the Herald reported.

"I do not know of any African country that is brave enough to do that," Mugabe was quoted as telling a meeting of his ZANU-PF party.

Few African nations have been openly critical of Mugabe although Botswana’s President Ian Khama infuriated his Zimbabwean counterpart last month by calling for a re-run of disputed elections under international supervision.

The veteran leader also said he would soon discuss forming a unity government with his two political rivals. Negotiations to form the government following a power-sharing in September have deadlocked.

"We will be inviting the two leaders — Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara — to come and discuss the way forward," said Mugabe.

Unity government discussions have stalled over disagreements on the allocation of key ministries, including home affairs, which controls the police.

Last week, parliament published a constitutional amendment creating the post of prime minister, which Tsvangirai and his deputy are supposed to fill under the power-sharing deal.


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