Mugabe doesn't learn Egyptian lessons – US

The US State Department says that Robert Mugabe had failed to heed the lessons from Arab revolts against longtime autocrats after the arrest of scores of Zimbabweans who met to discuss them.

"Activists meet in Zimbabwe to discuss the implications of Egypt and Tunisia and end up arrested. Mugabe did not learn the right lessons," spokesman Philip Crowley wrote on the micro-blogging website Twitter.

Zimbabwean police had detained a former lawmaker and 46 others at a meeting discussing the protests in Egypt which pushed president Hosni Mubarak out of power after a 30-year-reign, a lawyer said Monday.

"They were picked up late Saturday afternoon at a meeting where they were discussing the events in Egypt and whether other countries would follow what happened there," attorney and rights activist Rose Hanzi told AFP.

Among the arrested were Munyaradzi Gwisai, a university lecturer and former lawmaker from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, members of the audience and some passers-by.

Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, has been nominated by his party to stand again for president in elections expected later this year, which will end his shaky power-sharing government with long-time rival Tsvangirai.

Meanwhile, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said he would not step down despite a natiowide revolt against his rule, vowing to die in Libya as a martyr while threatening to quash protesters.

“I am not going to leave this land, I will die here as a martyr,” Gaddafi said in a defiant speech on state television.

“Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of the revolution, I am not a president to step down…This is my country. Muammar is not a president to leave his post, Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time.”

In a fiery but rambling address, apparently made in front of a building bombed by United States’ war planes in 1986, he blamed the unrest on youths and called the protesters “rats and mercenaries” who wanted to turn Libya into an Islamic state.

Pounding his fists on a podium, Gaddafi called on people to take to the streets on Wednesday in a show of support for him.

Despite numerous reports from human rights groups and witnesses of widespread bloodshed, he said he had not yet used force against his opponents but would do so if necessary. The image of his country before the rest of the world was being distorted by foreigners.