Mugabe cancels speech because of chest pains

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The Independent Online

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who was 80 on Saturday, cancelled an engagement to speak at a state function yesterday after suffering chest pains.

The same day, the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, survived an ambush by members of Mr Mugabe's ruling party. Mr Tsvangirai said he was attacked by 30 to 40 youths when he stopped at a supermarket to buy groceries in Chivhu, south of Harare, on his way home to Buhera on Saturday.

"I was not hurt," he said. "They did not get to me because the bodyguards acted quickly to shield me. We managed to speed away although stones were raining on my vehicle and all sorts of obscenities were being shouted at us." Mr Tsvangirai has survived several assassination attempts by President Mugabe's supporters, including an attempt to throw him from his 10th-floor office in 1998.

The opposition leader is on trial on a treason charge arising from an alleged plot to kill President Mugabe. He also awaits trial on another treason charge arising from a "plot to overthrow" the President after he organised protests that closed Zimbabwe for a week.

The state broadcaster said Mr Mugabe had chest pains and could not speak at the funeral of Julia Zvobgo, 67, a former Zanu-PF official. Mrs Zvobgo was buried at a shrine for heroes of the liberation struggle.