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Despite Slaps at West, Some Find Mugabe UN Speech Tame

Under pressure from United Nations officials to request and accept humanitarian aid, President Mugabe in remarks to the U.N. General Assembly reproached the West and the U.N. itself for what he characterized as interference in a sovereign state’s affairs.

He also said U.N. members need to go back to the organization’s founding principles if they are to attain the Millennium Development Goals for reducing poverty and other ills in the developing world. Mr. Mugabe attributed his own country’s failure to reach those objectives to drought, floods, HIV-AIDS and Western economic sanctions.

“In reviewing the progress made towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, we must have the courage beyond the mere posturing that is characterized by name-calling, finger-pointing and false accusations,” he said.

Mr. Mugabe deplored “situations where a few countries by virtue of their privileged positions, by virtue of their wealth and military might, dictate the agenda for everybody else.” In a reference to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, he spoke of “a coalition of evil.”

President Mugabe’s thinly veiled attacks at the Western powers and the UN did not go unnoticed. But one foreign affairs expert said the speech was relatively tame compared to previous U.N. addresses by the Zimbabwean head of state.

International affairs expert Innocent Sithole, a former editor of the Mirror newspaper in Harare, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he thinks Mr. Mugabe chose his words with care because he wants to mend diplomatic fences.

In Harare, the spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Mr. Mugabe’s speech was a rehash of old rhetoric and excuses for failures.

Paul Themba Nyathi told Studio 7 reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele that he rejected the reasons Mr. Mugabe gave having fallen short of national development objectives.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...