ZIMBABWE HARARE Saturday (AFP) President Robert Mugabe said Friday that “only God” could remove him from office, as Zimbabwe's opposition considered pulling out of next week's run-off election amid escalating violence.
“The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country -- never ever,” Mugabe told local business people in Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo, referring to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
“Only God who appointed me will remove me -- not the MDC, not the British.”Mugabe -- in power since independence from Britain in 1980 -- has frequently accused his presidential run-off opponent Morgan Tsvangirai of being a stooge of the former colonial power.
Later Friday, at a rally in Bulawayo, Mugabe said: “We will never allow an event like an election reverse our independence, our sovereignty, our sweat and all that we fought for ... all that our comrades died fighting for.”The MDC plans to meet Sunday to consider whether to contest the June 27 vote, with the party claiming that around 70 of its supporters have been killed since the first round of voting in March.
“In the light of the violence and intimidation, we will make a position whether we still feel the people's will will be realised, whether it's conducive to go into an election,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP.
There were signs the party was deeply split on the issue, with other MDC officials contradicting Chamisa and vowing to press ahead.
Pulling out would likely mean handing victory to Mugabe, who is defying harsh criticism from abroad.
Western powers and human rights groups say the election has been tainted by violence and intimidation, while Tsvangirai alleges that Zimbabwe now is run by what is essentially a “military junta”.
“The people have been subjected to violence and intimidation which are so blatant and they are disappointed that we are not having access to the electorate,” Innocent Gonese, the MDC's secretary for legal affairs, told AFP.