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Mugabe threatens US, UK
From correspondents in Harare
July 20, 2003

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has warned Britain and the United States that their descendants living in the country "will be the first to die" if the two countries launch an attack, a newspaper said today.

"They will never attempt to do here what they did in Iraq because it is their children who will be the first to die," the private Daily News on Sunday quoted Mugabe as telling a rally two weeks ago.

The rally, held shortly before a visit to southern Africa by US President George W Bush, was one of several at which Mugabe issued stern warnings to Britain and the United States.

State media did not report the threat, which was made in Mugabe's native Shona language, but the Daily News on Sunday claimed it had a recording.

Zimbabwe's white minority - mainly descendants of British and white South African immigrants during the last two centuries - has dwindled to around 50,000 from some 200,000 before political tensions began some three years ago.

Many whites, along with an estimated two million blacks, have left because of the economic and political fallout of the government's controversial land reform programme in which it has taken over white-owned commercial farms for redistribution among new black farmers.

At the same rally Mugabe described Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as "liars" who should stand trial for genocide over their invasion of Iraq earlier this year.

"They have told lies to the world. They have committed genocide, and they are criminals these two, Bush and Blair," he said.

Mugabe frequently lambasts the West, especially the United States and Britain, which he accuses of supporting their "kith and kin" still in the country above the interests of the black majority.

State media accuse the two Western allies of wanting to effect a "regime change" in Zimbabwe in favour of Mugabe's main rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

But the British and US governments have never openly spoken of wanting to invade Zimbabwe.

Washington, which does not respect Mugabe's victory in a disputed presidential poll last year, has said it wants Mugabe to step down and fresh elections to be held.

Agence France-Presse

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