London, June 17 : Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has indicated clearly for the first time that he will disregard the result of the upcoming run-off election if his party loses, according to reports in the state press.
Mugabe's military-backed regime has been carrying out a campaign of violence aimed at wiping out the opposition vote.
"We fought for this country and a lot of blood was shed. We are not going to give up our country because of a mere X. How can a ballpoint fight with a gun?" the state-controlled Herald quoted him as saying at a rally.
State-controlled media reported his comments to supporters in Silobela, a village in the country's Central Midlands province, the latest in a series of increasingly menacing threats as Zimbabwe counts down to the June 27 presidential run-off poll, The Times reported.
The warning came a day after he declared: "We are ready to go to war."
Mugabe's threat coincided with a sudden worsening in violence in the townships around Harare, as mobs of hundreds of Zanu (PF) youths marched through the streets at night, chanting war songs, dragging people out of their homes and beating them up with sticks, iron rods and axes.
Until then the terror campaign had been confined largely to rural areas where security forces and militia groups have conspired to create "no-go zones", banning aid organisations and all outsiders to prevent them witnessing the intimidation.
The level of violence has increased dramatically in the past two weeks, moving from beatings and torture to mutilation and killing, with several victims burnt alive and others shot.
The run-off vote was triggered after Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change candidate, beat Mugabe in March's presidential elections but, according to the widely discredited official results, fell short of the 50 per cent needed for outright victory.
The regime has already targeted opposition leaders for arrest, detaining Tsvangirai to prevent him from campaigning and locking up his deputy, Tendai Biti, on the capital charge of treason.