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Verdict Mixed On Political Impact Of UN Speech By Zimbabwe's Mugabe

Political analysts had praise and criticism for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's speech Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, some saying he neatly deflected Western criticisms, while others found his arguments all too familiar.

Some said the Southern African leader responded energetically and effectively to U.S. President George Bush’s attack on his human rights record - though others said Mr. Mugabe was arguing from a position of weakness on that sensitive issue.

Mr. Mugabe lashed out at President Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, accusing them of seeking to exercise a neo-colonialist hegemony over Zimbabwe.

Observers said a recent deal between Mr. Mugabe's ruling party ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change on a constitutional amendment gave the president something to throw on the table at the United Nations as evidence that Zimbabwe is a democratic nation - but critics cited past electoral abuses.

For perspective on Mr. Mugabe’s performance in New York and what bearing it might have the crisis in Zimbabwe, reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Advocacy Coordinator Abel Chikomo of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Joseph Kurebwa.

Kurebwa said Mr. Mugabe made a strong case to his peers in the General assembly following the condemnation of his administration by the U.S. president, but Chikomo said Mr. Mugabe advanced familiar arguments "trying to evade the real questions."

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