Let me keep my Zimbabwe, Mugabe tells Blair

Johannesburg - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe fired off a salvo at British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday, telling him to "let me keep my Zimbabwe" and defending seizures of white-owned farms.

"We have fought for our land, we have fought for our sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood" to protect the nation, Mugabe told world leaders at the Earth Summit.

"So Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe," said Mugabe, triggering applause around the hall.

Blair, who spoke earlier on Monday, had already left.

Mugabe has vowed to press ahead with the eviction of 2 900 of the country's 4 500 remaining white commercial farmers despite legal challenges at home and criticism in the West, particularly from former colonial ruler Britain.

He said that white commercial farmers often owned several farms and would be allowed to keep at least one. "No farmer is being left without land," said Mugabe. "We are threatening no one."

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