Ready for War: Mugabe Talks Even Tougher
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said on Friday liberation war veterans would take up arms if he loses a June 27 presidential run-off vote.
Mugabe told youth members of his ruling ZANU-PF party in Harare that the veterans had told him they would launch a new bush war if opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai wins the election.
"They said if this country goes back into white hands just because we have used a pen (voted), 'we will return to the bush to fight,'" Mugabe said, in the latest ratcheting-up of pressure to extend his 28-year presidency.
Mugabe says Tsvangirai is a puppet of former colonial ruler Britain.
The war veterans, usually acting alongside the youth militia, have regularly been used as shock troops to intimidate government opponents.
Movement for Democratic Change leader Tsvangirai, human rights groups and Western powers accuse Mugabe of unleashing a brutal campaign to win the run-off.
Tsvangirai says 66 of his followers have been murdered but former guerrilla leader Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980, blames the MDC for violence that has caused widespread international concern.
"What is clear is that the election [run-off] is not going to end the crisis because Mugabe has declared war to stay," said John Makumbe, a veteran political commentator and Mugabe critic.
Makumbe said Mugabe's personal dislike of Tsvangirai -- whom he calls a "pathetic Western puppet" -- would hinder any efforts to unite and be viewed by hardliners as political defeat.