- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

HARARE, Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, sworn in yesterday to a new term as president, boasted that the Zimbabwean people had triumphed over British neo-colonialism. He also declared that the seizures of white-owned farms "must proceed with greater speed and strength."
"We have dealt a stunning blow to imperialism," he added, saying that by exercising their sovereign right to determine their destiny, the Zimbabwean people had said "loudly to those in Europe, 'No, no, never, never again shall Zimbabwe be a colony.'"
In reference to the office of Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Mugabe said, "Mugabe-bashing has become an obsession, particularly in Britain and particularly in No. 10 Downing Street."
The inauguration, which in the past had been held at Harare's national stadium, proved to be a low-key affair at State House, with hundreds of chairs empty as fighter aircraft flew by and a 21-gun salute boomed out.
Britain and its European partners, along with the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada all of which declared the election unacceptably flawed declined invitations to the swearing-in ceremony.
The presidents of several African countries Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Congo attended, but President Olesugun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa stayed away. They will be in Harare today to discuss with Mr. Mugabe a scathing report on the election by the Commonwealth observer mission.
The pair are members of a "troika" appointed at the Commonwealth summit earlier this month, along with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who will meet in London this week to decide whether the 54-member body should sanction Zimbabwe or expel it from the Commonwealth.
Mr. Mbeki will make a last-ditch attempt to persuade Mr. Mugabe to accept a government of national unity or "step down with dignity."
He will also tell the Zimbabwean leader that unless he moves swiftly to reconcile his deeply divided country, his disputed election victory will reduce to ashes Africa's international credibility.
Mr. Mbeki came under intense international pressure over the weekend to abandon finally his "quiet diplomacy" approach to the Mugabe regime.
Diplomats said the United States, Britain and other European leaders had urged Mr. Mbeki to get tough with Mr. Mugabe.
Both Mr. Blair and President Bush are reported to have emphasized in personal telephone calls to Mr. Mbeki that economic aid and foreign investment in Africa have been put under threat by the continent's apparent acceptance of the patently flawed Zimbabwe election.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has accused Mr. Mugabe of stealing the election, repeated its complaints of widespread malpractices during the election process itself, apart from the intimidation that preceded it.


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