Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has delivered a harsh criticism of his rivals in his first speech since winning the country's national election last month. He was adamant the vote was carried out in a democratic manner.
Mugabe said Monday that those disputing his landslide election victory could "go hang" and dismissed his rivals as "Western-sponsored stooges."
"Never will we go back on our victory," the 89-year-old told the crowd of thousands at a liberation war commemoration outside the capital Harare. "Those who were hurt by defeat can go hang if they so wish."
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had filed a challenge to the results of the July 31 election in court on Friday, alleging vote-rigging and intimidation. The party boycotted the event Mugabe was speaking at, saying the MDC did not want to associate with "thieves."
Mugabe's opponent Morgan Tsvangirai called the Zimbabwean president's election to a new five-year term a "crime." Tsvangirai garnered 34 percent of the vote compared to Mugabe's 61 percent.
"All I can see is a nation in mourning over the audacity of so few to steal from so many," he said in a statement. "The thief left so much evidence at the scene of the crime as we shall expose in the people's petition that we filed last week."
Many western countries, including the US, have questioned the vote, but observers from African organizations were more supportive of the process.
"We are delivering democracy on a platter," Mugabe said. "We say take it or leave it, but the people have delivered democracy."
dr/ng (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)