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Mugabe blasts 'insane' US for vote criticism

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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses an election campaign rally in Mashonaland Central province on July 11 2013. Mugabe on Thursday rebuked the "insane" US for criticising his push for elections without key reforms and told it to keep its "pink nose" out of Zimbabwe's affairs. (AFP/File)

President Robert Mugabe on Thursday rebuked the "insane" US for criticising his push for elections without key reforms and told it to keep its "pink nose" out of Zimbabwe's affairs.

"America must be mad, absolutely insane," Mugabe, who is seeking to extend his 33-year rule, told an election campaign rally in the northern town of Chinhoyi.

US President Barack Obama during his visit to South Africa last month called on Zimbabwe's government to apply key reforms ahead of the landmark elections.

"For anyone to suggest that our elections must not be held even after the expiry of the term of parliament, because some party is arguing for reforms of our security forces, is a mad argument, completely."

Mugabe declared July 31 polling date to choose a successor to the wobbly power-sharing government.

His main rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had wanted a delay to allow time to implement a battery of reforms including an overhaul of the security forces headed by Mugabe's allies.

During his visit to neighbouring South Africa, Obama said "harassment of citizens and groups needs to stop and reform needs to move forward so people can cast their votes in elections that are fair and free and credible."

Mugabe said Zimbabwe would determine its own future and that the US has no moral ground to chastise his regime.

"Keep your pink nose out of our affairs, please."

"Where do you get that audacity to open your mouth and try to sermonise us," questioned Mugabe, alleging racism was rife in the US.

"Your prisons are still full of blacks. Where is your democracy? There is lots of racism in your country."

He reiterated his decision to bar the US and the European Union from observing the Zimbabwe vote.

"We have already invited well meaning friends. Ill-intentioned friends, we never can invite."

Observers from the Southern African Development Community and the African Union will watch the vote.

The EU Thursday wrapped up a summit with South Africa, urging Zimbabwean political players to take all the necessary steps "to create and ensure a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful, credible, free and fair elections."