Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe told his political opponents on Monday that if they could not accept the official election results that saw his re-election and his party win a two-thirds majority in Parliament, “you can commit suicide.”
The 89-year-old leader called on his rivals as well as Western nations to accept the results from the July 31 elections.
“We are delivering democracy on a platter. Will you take?” he asked in his first official speech since the elections. “We say, take it or leave it.” Mr. Mugabe was attending a rally to mark Heroes’ Day, which honours those who fought for Zimbabwe’s independence.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the head of the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), last week filed a court appeal against the election results, accusing Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of rigging.
“Those who can’t stomach the defeat, you can commit suicide,” Mr. Mugabe said. “Even dogs will not sniff their carcasses.” The MDC, which boycotted the rally, says there were serious problems with the voters’ roll, along with other issues, and hoped the Constitutional Court would agree to hear the petition.
The court has 14 days to decide on the matter. In the meantime, Mr. Mugabe will not be sworn in.
He sounded confident that he would win in the courts.
“We will never go back on our victory. We do not know what is retreating,” said Mr. Mugabe, to applause from thousands of people attending the event, many of them Zanu-PF supporters.
Some in the crowd held up placards criticising the West and celebrating Mr. Mugabe.
Western nations have said that while voting in this election took place peacefully, the results did not represent the will of the people.
African nations have largely accepted Mr. Mugabe’s victory with 61 per cent of the vote to Mr. Tsvangirai’s 35 per cent. The MDC also lost many seats in Parliament, according to the official results.
The Southern African Development Community, which had election observers in Zimbabwe, is due to release its full report on the polls at a summit in Malawi this weekend.
Independent local election observers have warned that the problems with the voters’ roll and voter registration in urban areas — long considered MDC strongholds — have threatened the credibility of the election.
Zimbabwe’s already weakened economy looks set for more bumpy roads ahead as investors worry over a Zanu-PF-controlled country, especially as the party has pledged to bring more private sector assets under state control.