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Mugabe calls opponents 'garbage'

Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe has declared his party will not yield its victory in disputed elections and proclaimed he has disposed of his main political rivals "like garbage."

In his first public speech since the July 31 elections, Mr Mugabe spoke at the annual Heroes' Day gathering at a national shrine in Harare that honours guerrillas killed in the war against white-minority rule.

Speaking in the local Shona language, he called on his main challenger, outgoing prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to accept defeat, then dismissed him and his followers in scathing language. "Those who are smarting from defeat can commit suicide if they so wish. But I tell them even dogs will not sniff at their flesh if they choose to die that way," he said.

He described Mr Tsvangirai as the "enemy" in his party's midst during the shaky coalition brokered by regional leaders after the 2008 elections which were also disputed and, unlike the recent vote, were marked by widespread violence against opposition supporters.

Mr Mugabe won the July 31 election with 61% of the vote, Zimbabwe's electoral commission has announced, with Mr Tsvangirai getting 34%. Mr Tsvangirai, who alleges widespread rigging and is challenging the poll results in court, stayed away from Monday's gathering.

"We have thrown the enemy away like garbage. They say we have rigged, but they are thieves," Mr Mugabe said, referring to alleged corruption during their time in government. "We say to them: You are never going to rise again."

Mr Tsvangirai said in a message to his supporters that Zimbabweans are "still shocked by the brazen manner in which their vote was stolen."

"So many sons and daughters of this country sacrificed their lives ... and one of the fundamental rights they toiled at, died for was the right to vote," he said.

The 89-year-old Mr Mugabe insisted that Zimbabweans voted freely: "We are delivering democracy on a platter. Never will we go back on our victory."

In his hour-long address broadcast on state radio and television, he said voters confounded the country's Western critics and thanked regional leaders and the continent-wide African Union organization for what he called "continuing to support our national efforts."

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