Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accused Britain and the US of instigating a protest drive to topple his government, as police arrested opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on yet another treason charge.
Police arrested the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, on Friday after a week of opposition-led protests against Mugabe, whom critics blame for Zimbabwe’s economic decay, food and fuel shortages, and political turmoil.
On Saturday Mugabe said former colonial power Britain and the United States were behind the protests and hinted his government would retaliate.
“The actions are blatantly illegal in that they are aimed at an unconstitutional removal of the country’s head of state,” he told mourners at the state funeral of the widow of late Zimbabwean nationalist Joshua Nkomo.
“I hope…the British and the United States embassies realize that as they sponsor the MDC and instigate it, they are doing so in order to achieve an illegal objective…and I warn their instigation cannot be tolerated forever by my government.”
Tsvangirai’s lawyer Innocent Chagonda told reporters the MDC leader’s court hearing had been postponed from Saturday to Monday, when he is also due to appear in the High Court for a trial on separate, earlier treason charges of plotting to kill Mugabe in 2001.
State lawyer Stephen Musona said Saturday’s hearing was delayed because the court was not equipped to record the proceedings, a measure requested by the defense.
State television said police were still looking for MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube in connection with the same charges.