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Updated Tuesday 02 December 2003




Isolated Mugabe looks to China


Obasanjo snubs Mugabe

Mugabe in threat to quit C'nwealth

Mugabe exit off agenda

By Chris Chinaka

Filed 16:00
ZIMBABWE strongman Robert Mugabe accused Britain, Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday of forging an ''unholy alliance'' against him and said Zimbabwe's future in the Commonwealth would depend on respect for its independence.

In a state of the nation address, Mugabe told parliament that his embattled government was working to build an ''alternative global power point'' -- including China -- because a unipolar political order led by the United States was unjust.

His remarks ahead of an annual Commonwealth summit in Nigeria follow remarks made last Friday suggesting that Zimbabwe may quit the group it had been suspended from altogether if the price of being readmitted was to give up sovereignty.

''Our membership of the Commonwealth, itself a mere club, is dependent on this fundamental consideration, currently being vitiated by Britain, Australia and New Zealand, the Anglo-Saxon unholy alliance against Zimbabwe,'' he said, sparking a round of applause in a parliament dominated by his ruling ZANU-PF party.

Zimbabwe was suspended from the 54-nation Commonwealth last year after Mugabe was accused of rigging his own re-election.

He has not been invited to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja in Nigeria from December 5-8. But Zimbabwe has dominated preparations for the summit and threatened to split the group along racial lines.

Britain said on Monday it will urge fellow Commonwealth members to keep up pressure on its former colony by maintaining a punitive suspension of Mugabe's government at the summit, International Development Secretary Hilary Benn told Reuters.

Australia also urged the international community on Monday not to be intimidated by Mugabe's threats to leave the Commonwealth.

Facing international isolation over his controversial re-election last year and seizures of white-owned farms, Mugabe said Zimbabwe was ready to defend its independence.

''We abhor high global high-handedness of the strong and powerful; we abhor unilateral interference in the internal political affairs of other countries, especially smaller states,'' he said. ''We accordingly jealously guard our sovereignty against such interference.''

In his 30-minute address, Mugabe promised to implement policies in the coming year to reverse a deepening economic crisis which his critics blame on mismanagement by Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980.

Mugabe accuses a ''white'' section of the Commonwealth led by Australia and Britain of pursuing a vendetta over the seizure of white-owned farms for black settlement, and says opponents abroad and at home are sabotaging the economy.

Mugabe told parliament his controversial land seizures enjoyed international support among Third World countries.

As Mugabe made his speech, calling for national unity, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was in a court two streets away facing treason charges of plotting to kill Mugabe. He could face the death penalty if convicted - Reuters


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