WAYO, Zimbabwe, (AFP) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said Friday "only God" can remove him from office, in comments ahead of next week's tense run-off election.
"The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country - never ever," Mugabe said in a meeting with local business people, referring to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"Only God who appointed me will remove me, not the MDC, not the British."
Mugabe has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980 and has frequently accused his presidential run-off opponent Morgan Tsvangirai of being a stooge of the former colonial power.
Later addressing a rally in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo, Mugabe said: "We will never allow an event like an election reverse our independence, our sovereignty, our sweat and all that we fought for ... all that our comrades died fighting for.
Our Monitoring Desk adds: Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party is considering withdrawing from the June 27 presidential run-off vote, a party source has told the BBC.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is said to be under pressure to pull out in view of reports of escalating violence against his supporters. Senior opposition MDC leaders are meeting in Harare to discuss whether or not to take part in the run-off vote. It is not clear if they will make a decision at the meeting.
"There is a huge avalanche of calls and pressure from supporters across the country, especially in the rural areas, not to accept to be participants in this charade," Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, the EU, pressed by Britain, on Friday threatened President Robert Mugabe's regime with more sanctions, seeking to exert pressure ahead of a run-off presidential vote in Zimbabwe. In its summit conclusions, the EU said it was "deeply concerned" by the surge in violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe ahead of next Friday's second round poll.
"The European Council reiterates its readiness to take additional measures against those responsible for violence," the leaders said in their statement.
Gordon Brown, prime minister of former colonial power Britain, at a press conference after the two-day summit, slammed the Mugabe regime as a "criminal cabal".
European Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel also expressed "deep concern" at the worsening situation in Zimbabwe exactly a week ahead of the second round, where Mugabe will face Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who topped the first round poll.