Mugabe to try Smith for genocide

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe plans to try former white minority leader Ian Smith with genocide, it was confirmed today.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe plans to try former white minority leader Ian Smith with genocide, it was confirmed today.

He wants to revoke the national reconcilliation policy and try other whites along with Smith.

It cames as the country's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) launched impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.

The party put forward a motion which was accepted by the Parliamentay Speaker.

In the shock move, Mugabe said he would bring to trial Smith and other whites for alleged atrocities committed during the 1970s liberation war.

He said: "The national reconciliation policy is being gravely threatened by acts of the white settlers. We shall revoke that national reconciliation policy.

"The whites, including Smith, will now stand trial for the genocide in this country. The Americans are still chasing after the Nazis and we will also start looking for the whites who fought with Smith. They must be arrested."

The 76-year-old former guerrilla leader said white Zimbabweans supported by Britain and the United States were trying to destabilise the country, which won independence from Britain in 1980 after a bloody seven-year war against Smith's white-led Rhodesia.

Mugabe has in the past accused whites of financially backing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which poses the strongest challenge to his 20-year rule.

The MDC holds 57 of the 150 seats in parliament, meeting the one-third requirement to propose impeachment, but falling far short of the two-thirds needed to impeach.

It is the strongest challenge to Mugabe's 20-year rule.

MDC officials have said they do not expect to oust the 76-year-old Mugabe, but that the move will create a platform for public debate about his presidency.

A survey also found that Zimbabweans overwhelmingly want Mugabe to resign and a majority want him tried for human rights abuses.

According to the survey, Mugabe's popularity plunged to an all-time low, with just 14 percent of adults questioned wanting him to stay in office.

Three-fourths of those polled want him to resign, and 51 percent want him tried for human rights crimes, mismanagement and abuse of the constitution, according to results of the poll.

"The figures are as bad for any government I have seen in the world. The level of dissatisfaction is clearly one of incipient revolt," said Bill Johnson, head of the South African-based Helen Suzman Foundation, which conducted the poll.

The survey was carried out under the supervision of Gallup International.

Mugabe's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, with inflation at a record 70 percent and unemployment above 50 percent.

Recent increases in food prices led to food riots in the capital, Harare, last week that was put down after a crackdown by the police and military. At least 160 people were arrested in those disturbances.

The country has also suffered from political violence surrounding June's parliamentary elections that left at least 32 people dead and 10,000 homeless. Most of the victims were opposition supporters. On October 6 Mugabe pardoned most of the perpetrators of the violence.

The poll released today showed support for Mugabe and his ruling party had collapsed in their traditional rural strongholds, especially among the elderly and the rural poor.

If presidential elections scheduled for 2002 were held now, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai would overwhelmingly beat Mugabe with 62 percent of the vote.