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Mugabe warns allies against splits

Zimbabwe's long-time president said splits and greed are threatening his party ahead of elections he is pushing for this year during a spirited speech at the funeral of a party stalwart.

President Robert Mugabe told mourners at the state funeral that leaders have become "too materialistic" and are fighting each other for top party posts ahead of elections he wants this year to end a shaky coalition with Zimbabwe's former opposition.

Mr Mugabe, 88, has been nominated as his party's sole presidential candidate in proposed elections.

The power-sharing coalition was brokered by regional leaders after violent and disputed elections in 2008.

Mr Mugabe accused party factions of manipulating recent voting for provincial posts. "We look forward to having an election. Let's get united," he said during the 50-minute speech at Edson Ncube's funeral.

Mr Ncube, 74, served as a guerrilla fighter in the bush war that led to independence in 1980. He later became a senior party administrator.

Mr Mugabe, commending Mr Ncube's role in the fight against British colonial-era rule, vigorously sang a verse from Rule Britannia, an anthem about Britain's former colonial dominance.

"They can rule the rest of the world but not Zimbabwe anymore," he said.

Mr Mugabe has appeared frail and weak at recent public occasions after returning from medical treatment in Asia. This time he looked fit and energetic and did not refer to his health.

Mr Ncube died from complications of anaemia in the second city of Bulawayo. He was declared a national hero for burial with military honours at Heroes Acre, a shrine for fallen fighters and politicians outside Harare.

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