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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Says Mugabe Has 'Declared War On The People'

Zimbabwean opposition leader and presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai said Thursday in an exclusive interview with the Voice of America that President Robert Mugabe "has declared war on the people" and it is incumbent on Mr. Mugabe to halt escalating political violence.

"The violence is state-sponsored, so it is the state that should actually remove the causes of the violence," Tsvangirai said. "It is the one that has got (liberation) war is the one that has got military operating throughout the country, with guns, against unarmed civilians. It is an environment in which the government has declared war on the people, so it is the government that should...withdraw those conditions."

Tsvangirai dismissed reports saying South African President Thabo Mbeki had urged him to forego the June 27 run-off and form a national unity government with Mr. Mugabe.

Tsvangirai confirmed meeting Wednesday with Mr. Mbeki, but said he did not consider him to be acting as a mediator. His Movement for Democratic Change has asked the Southern African Development Community to replace Mr. Mbeki as its mediator in Zimbabwe, questioning Mr. Mbeki's impartiality

Tsvangirai said he met United Nations envoy Haile Menkerios Tuesday, quoting the envoy as saying that he had told Mr. Mugabe that if torture and political murders persist the U.N. will have no choice but to file charges with the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mbeki told him that he has no plan to end the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti was in court again Thursday where his lawyers argued for his release pending disposition of treason charges, detailing alleged mistreatment of Biti by police since his arrest last week at the Harare airport.

Studio 7 correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported from Harare.

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