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Mugabe calls for unity on Zimbabwe’s Independence Day

President Robert Mugabe has marked 37 years of independence in Zimbabwe with a rare call for unity and tolerance of political differences.

FILE: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has marked 37 years of independence in Zimbabwe on Tuesday with a rare call for unity and tolerance of political differences.

The president was speaking at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

This was President Mugabe in an apparently conciliatory mood.

He said efforts to bring about unity in the country had been insufficient, and he called for Zimbabweans to respect each other.

The 93-year-old president told tens of thousands gathered in Harare to mark 37 years of independence that people have a right to belong to a party of their choice.

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections next year - and the question will be whether Mugabe's calls for tolerance will be heeded.

In his Independence Day message, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the ruling party had hijacked Independence Day - but he too called for Zimbabweans to put their differences aside.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)