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Mugabe calls for national healing

April 18, 2009 at 4:13 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 18 (UPI) -- As Zimbabwe celebrated its 29th year of independence Saturday, President Robert Mugabe called for reconciliation in the violence-torn African nation.

BBC reported Mugabe, who resisted the formation of a unity government for several violent months after last year's elections, called for "national healing" as he appeared at an independence day event with his political rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

"We need tolerance ... irrespective of political or religious affiliation," Mugabe said.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, formed a unity government in February under a power-sharing agreement after the March 2008 elections.

"For the global political agreement to succeed, there is need for national healing to put behind the atmosphere of hostility and polarization which had regrettably become a feature of our national politics," Mugabe was quoted by The Zimbabwe Times as saying

This week, Tsvangirai criticized Mugabe's Zanu-PF party for reportedly taking away the opposition party's control over state-owned telecommunications companies.

For his part, Mugabe has called for all economic sanctions by the European Union and the United States to be lifted. The U.S. government and the European Union have said they want to see progress made by the unity government before lifting sanctions.

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