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Africa

Mugabe marks independence by calling for 'national healing'

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Latest update : 2009-04-19

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe called for national healing on Saturday. Mugabe and his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, marked independence from Britain together for the first time on Saturday.

AFP - President Robert Mugabe called Saturday for "national healing" on Zimbabwe's first independence anniversary under a unity government formed to end bloody political unrest.
  
"As Zimbabweans, we need to create an environment of tolerance, and treat one another with dignity and decency, irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, tribe, political or religious affiliation," Mugabe said.
  
"This also means an end to those instances of violence that needlessly caused untold harm to several members of our society," said Mugabe, who has steered the southern African nation since independence from Britain in 1980.
  
Members from Zimbabwe's inclusive government attended the first independence day since the creation of a unity government in February with the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
  
"We are grateful that the formation of an inclusive government has allowed the spirit of oneness in which we celebrate our 29th year of independence," Mugabe said.
  
In February, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai joined his longtime rival Mugabe in a deal brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
  
Mugabe said for power sharing to work, "there is need for national healing to put behind the atmsophere of hostility and polarisation which had regrettably become a feature of national politics."
  
But over the past two months, there have been incidents of stray political violence among rival supporters across Zimbabwe, leading to several arrests.
  
In a statement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated the people of Zimbabwe on their independence day and urged the transition government to continue moving toward reforms.
  
She said Washington commended the efforts undertaken by Zimbabwe's transitional government "and the progress it has achieved towards reforms that will benefit the Zimbabwean people.
  
On Friday, the United States announced it had lifted its travel warning for Zimbabwe, saying conditions were improving there, but it denied making any political overture to Mugabe.
  
Mugabe earlier Friday issued a fresh appeal for Western nations to lift sanctions, and prodded partners in his unity government to join his campaigning against them.
  
"The sanctions are unwarranted and it is important that we sing the same song," the president said in the state-run Herald newspaper.
  
Zimbabwe is trying to raise 8.5 billion dollars over three years to support the new government and help revive an economy shattered by the world's worst case of hyperinflation.
  
Last weekend the government suspended the Zimbabwe dollar for at least a year, after legalising the domestic use of hard foreign currencies such as the euro, the British pound, the South African rand and the US dollar.

Date created : 2009-04-19

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