The Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, accused the United States of political interference and threatened to expel its ambassador yesterday, as his party, Zanu-PF, began its campaign for next month's election run-off.
Mr Mugabe also said the US State Department's top diplomat for Africa had behaved like "a prostitute" by suggesting that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had won the elections on 29 March.
Mr Mugabe's attacks on the American Ambassador, James McGee, and Assistant Secretary of State, Jendayi Frazer, signalled the start of his campaign for the run-off on 27 June against Mr Tsvangirai, who won the first round but fell short of an absolute majority.
"He [Mr McGee] says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out," Mr Mugabe said at a campaign rally. "As tall as he is, if he continues to do that, I will kick him out of the country."
Of Ms Frazer, he said: "You saw this little American girl trotting around like a prostitute celebrating that the MDC had won. A disgraceful act."
Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since the end of white rule in 1980, routinely accuses the US and Britain of backing the MDC to punish him for seizing thousands of white-owned farms since 2000. He told supporters in Harare that the Western allies wanted to control Zimbabwe's resources.
He also promised land to Zimbabweans who returned from South Africa. Some 3.5 million people have fled the country to escape poverty in an economy where inflation is more than 165,000 per cent; four in five adults have no job; and food and fuel are in desperately short supply.Reuse content