Mugabe threat to US envoy

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday accused the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, of political interference and threatened to expel him from the country.

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday accused the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, of political interference and threatened to expel him from the country.

"He says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out," Mugabe said in a campaign rally.

Mugabe has changed his campaign strategy ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off, opting for voter canvassing and small village meetings, a senior official said.

Mugabe will face off in a second ballot next month against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) draws much of its backing from the capital Harare and other cities.

Offsetting that urban support is one of the keys to victory for Mugabe, who has seen his popularity plunge amid an economic meltdown that critics blame on his mismanagement. His government says Western sabotage is responsible for the problems.

But the 84-year-old Mugabe is still admired by millions in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa for spearheading the battle to end British colonial rule in Zimbabwe.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the new campaign style would pave the way for Mugabe's re-election.

"The machinery has been well oiled and ready to win the June 27 presidential run-off," Chinamasa said.

Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party lost control of parliament in the March 29 poll.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai kicked off his campaign after returning to Zimbabwe on Saturday since leaving the country last month. The MDC leader has been travelling to galvanise support in Africa and overseas for his bid to unseat Mugabe.

Tsvangirai too, has expressed confidence ahead of the run-off, despite raising concerns that post-election violence threatened to taint the vote and that the final result could be rigged. - Reuters

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