Mugabe use independence speech to back his pal Gaddafi

Harare – Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, in a speech to mark 31 years of independence from British rule, on Monday accused Western nations of violating the United Nations resolution to establish a no-fly zone over Libya.

‘They can violate the (UN) charter as they are doing right now, by bombarding the people of Libya,’ he said at a ceremony.

‘We begin to wonder whether the objectives of the charter have any meaning.’

The main independence day celebrations were taking place in the capital Harare, where the national sports stadium was almost filled to capacity for a military display and football match.

Residents in the poor townships said many had been forced by Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party to attend the event.

‘The Zanu-PF youth came to people’s houses early this morning, banging on their doors and telling us to get up and get in the buses that were waiting to take us to the stadium,’ said William Kubvisa from the Epworth, south of Harare. ‘We don’t want to go, we have to find food somewhere.’

Amnesty International has said that ongoing human rights violations in Zimbabwe have cast a shadow over the independence celebrations. The human rights organization cited arbitrary arrests, detention and torture occurring with alarming frequency, in a statement.

Mugabe called for an end to political violence and committed himself to constitutional reforms before fresh elections.

“We are one,” Mugabe said in a speech in the capital, Harare, to mark Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980. “We may have our differences but we belong to one family. Please, no violence, no fighting.”

While the power-sharing government between Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change has often come close to breaking down, it helped lift the southern African nation’s economy out of a decade of recession.

The coalition government brought political and economic stability to the country, he said. Tsvangirai and officials from his party also attended the Independence Day rally.

Southern African Development Community leaders on April 1 demanded an end to renewed fighting between the parties and called for lawmakers to complete a new constitution and prepare for elections. The MDC accuses Zanu-PF of preventing it from holding rallies.

The U.S. and Europe Union weren’t prepared to discuss lifting of sanctions, Mugabe said.

“We have had disappointing results so far in our efforts to re-engage the Americans and the European Union over sanctions,” he said. “When will Europe ever realize that there is international law which forbids us from interfering in the domestic affairs of others?”

The U.S. and EU impose targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his political allies.