Zimbabwe's president says his nation won't accept outside interference in crucial elections later this year and has urged Zimbabweans to vote peacefully to confound foreign critics.

President Robert Mugabe said Thursday his people have an obligation to "uphold and promote peace before, during and after" upcoming polls that are to end a shaky coalition with the former opposition.

"Go and vote your own way. No one should force you to vote for me," Mugabe said at celebrations marking 33 years of independence from colonial rule at a Harare sports stadium.

Mugabe said he welcomed recent efforts by Western nations to reopen dialogue with Zimbabwe after years of isolation to protest political violence and rights abuses. But he warned against interference.