Zimbabwe's MDC boycotts Mugabe's parliamentary speech

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe inspects a guard of honour (17 September 2013)
Image caption Robert Mugabe promised to press ahead with Zanu-PF's indigenisation policies

Zimbabwe's main opposition party has boycotted the opening of parliament by President Robert Mugabe following its defeat in the 31 July elections.

Mr Mugabe's election was not legitimate, said the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The party says its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, was cheated of victory, which Mr Mugabe denies.

The election ended the coalition the two leaders formed after disputed elections in 2008.

'Renewed vigour'

The July poll went off peacefully, in contrast to the previous election that was marred by violence and intimidation.

Mr Mugabe, 89, won with 61% of the presidential vote against 34% for Mr Tsvangirai on 31 July.

His Zanu-PF party clinched a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary vote.

The MDC rejected the result, saying the election had been marred by widespread rigging.

"He has no right to open parliament and we can't participate in the ceremony presided over by him," said MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese, AFP news agency reports.

Mr Mugabe made no reference to the MDC in his parliamentary address, reports the BBC's Brian Hungwe from the capital, Harare.

The president said he would pursue with "renewed vigour" policies aimed at forcing foreign firms to cede majority control to local partners.

Zimbabweans could not be "mere bystanders" in the economy, he said.

The controversial indigenisation law came into force in 2010. It has so far been applied to mines.

Mr Mugabe said he was ready to rebuild relations with Western powers.

"We stand ready to work with even those who before were at odds with us," he added.

"On the other hand, we will continue to demand the immediate and unconditional removal of sanctions imposed by some arrogant Western countries.".

In March, the European Union (EU) suspended sanctions against 81 officials and eight firms in Zimbabwe.

The decision followed a peaceful referendum on a new constitution which expands civil liberties in Zimbabwe,

Sanctions are still in force against 10 people, including President Mugabe.

The EU first imposed sanctions, including a travel ban, on Zimbabwean officials and firms in 2002.

It said it was in response to human rights abuses and political violence under Mr Mugabe's rule.

The US also has a travel ban on Mr Mugabe and other top Zanu-PF officials, and has blacklisted companies linked to them from doing business with US companies.

Mr Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980.

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