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Zimbabwe: Prime minister denounces Mugabe

Criticism expected to strengthen US resolve to maintain sanctions.

But Tsvangirai became frustrated by Mugabe’s iron grip on power. Tsvangirai’s supporters in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have also chafed under Mugabe’s continued rule. Many have continued to be harassed, beaten and arrested on spurious charges, according to human rights groups.

One of Tsvangirai’s supporters was killed last month when Mugabe’s followers attacked a public meeting on a new constitution. The process of drafting a new constitution has been thrown into disarray by the attacks by Mugabe’s followers.

Zimbabwe is scheduled to have fresh elections in 2011 and observers fear Mugabe will unleash a new round of repression, violence and torture against Tsvangirai’s supporters.

Tsvangirai criticized Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, for its lack of respect for the rule of law and its use of violence.

"As we have seen so many times, ZANU-PF is determined to tell citizens what they should think, and to intimidate, bully and beat up any who disagree," Tsvangirai said. "This goes against the fundamental principles of democracy, and is utterly abhorrent to me."

Earlier this year Tsvangirai traveled to the United States and Europe to urge Western donor nations to lift sanctions against Mugabe and his closest cronies.

“All Zimbabweans know that Mr Mugabe and his colleagues brought the restrictive measures on themselves through the flagrant abuses of human rights and the economic disaster which they inflicted on this country,” said Tsvangirai. “All Zimbabweans know that these restrictive measures are the result, not the cause of that economic disaster. They know that these restrictive measures affect the individuals concerned, not the country as a whole, as the economic turnaround since my party joined the government has shown.”

Tsvangirai’s criticism is expected to bolster the resistance of the West to give financial support to Mugabe’s regime.

Tsvangirai highlighted the issues that he will campaign on in the upcoming elections. He vowed to “turn Zimbabwe into a country ruled by the law, not by decree. When it comes to pursuing these principles and these goals, no amount of dishonesty, insincerity, intimidation, or abuse will move me. You can count on me to ensure that you will be able to participate in a free and fair election to choose who should lead your country.”