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Mugabe Says Detractors Seeking to Divide Unity Government

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accused Western powers on Tuesday of seeking to divide a fragile unity government he formed with rival Morgan Tsvangirai this year.

The veteran president has been angered by Western countries who refuse to give financial aid to the country until the new administration undertakes political and economic reforms.

Mugabe on Monday said Harare may need to reconsider its ties with the West for withholding financial support.

"Allegations of gross abuses of human rights or failure to respect good governance have provided fodder for the West and its media as they repeatedly seek blemishes to stick on to our country," Mugabe told thousands at a gathering to commemorate Zimbabwe Defence Forces day.

"Our detractors, the same old detractors continue with their sinister efforts to divide us."

While Mugabe continues to blame the West, his coalition partner Morgan Tsvangirai is on a drive to restore full ties with Western governments that are crucial for financial aid to fix the battered economy.

Tsvangirai toured Europe and the United States in June, but his efforts to attract Western aid for the government, which needs $8.3 billion for reconstruction, were met with calls for more reform.

The government says it has secured $2 billion in credit lines for the private sector, mostly from Africa, but has failed to attract budgetary support or significant foreign investment.

The unity government has suffered tensions since its formation in February but on Tuesday Mugabe and Tsvangirai stood together at a ceremony to honour the country's defence forces.

Senior security chiefs had previously vowed not to salute Tsvangirai but on Tuesday, in a sign that relations maybe thawing, they rose to salute the former trade union leader as he arrived for the ceremony.

Mugabe said the country's security services had been hit by the economic crisis and Western sanctions but had managed to partner local firms to manufacture equipment and spares while farms seized from whites would be used to supplement rations.

"The defence forces are utilising their farms to supplement their ration allocations from the fiscus (treasury). This is a positive development which I hope will be pursued to higher levels," Mugabe said.

Source: Reuters

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