President Donald Trump called on Saturday for President Robert Mugabe to be brought to justice over his role in a deadly bus attack in Zimbabwe in 1997.
“We need to send Robert Mugabes head to the back of the bus.
He’s got to go to prison,” Trump said during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.
“And the sooner we get that done, the sooner you can send him home.”
Trump said the bus attack on the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, was a “wake up call” to those who wanted to see Mugabe jailed.
“I hope that they will be able to see that we are on the right track, and we have a path to a better future, and justice for Robert Mugabi and for all Zimbabweans,” Trump added.
Trump spoke during a trip to the United States, where he was meeting with business leaders, including US Chamber of Commerce President Bill Dudley.
Zimbabwe was under Mugabe’s rule for five years from 1980 to 1994, when the country gained independence from Britain.
Mugabe was arrested in 1999 for allegedly plotting a coup.
In a rare public address on Saturday, Trump said that the world had not forgotten Zimbabwe’s people, saying the country needed a “political awakening” in the wake of the Bus Attack.
At the end of the speech, Trump praised Mugabe for his “humanitarian” efforts during the attacks, which he said had killed more than 3,000 people.
President Trump has long been critical of Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for five decades until he was ousted by Robert Mugah in 2008.
On Saturday, he called on Mugabe “to be arrested and put in jail immediately” over the attack.
The president said Mugabe would never get away with this, saying: “I would say the people of Zimbabwe are now saying that he should be sent to prison.”
“There is no question that this man is the mastermind of this crime, and if he goes to prison, he is going to be sent back to jail,” Trump continued.
“I mean, he’s going to go there.
I mean, there’s no way he’s not going to come back.”
Zimbab said on Saturday that he had received a “very large number” of death threats from Mugabe and that the president had “lost all credibility”.
“He’s not a human being,” Zimbab told reporters.
During his speech, Mugabe said he would not forgive anyone for “doing this” and that he would never be “held accountable”.
In an apparent reference to the Bus Attacks, Mugab said he wanted the attack to be considered a “human rights” attack and that “I will never apologise for my country and the people”.
“I want this to be a wake up call,” Mugab told the US delegation.
“This is a very serious matter and a very dangerous one.”
Earlier in the day, Mugabi appeared to accuse Trump of supporting a white supremacist movement, after Trump retweeted a video of him making the comments about the attack that took place on January 5, 1997.
Mugabe has denied involvement in the attack, but has been criticised for his handling of the matter and his role as a former leader.
‘He wants us dead’ “The president wants to send Mugabe back to Zimbabwe, but he’s been in jail for many years and I hope that he will be sent home, so he can be tried for all the wrongs that he’s committed,” Mugabe told CNN on Saturday.
“He wants to do everything possible to keep Zimbabwe under his rule, but there’s a difference between sending him to prison and sending him back.”
Mugab said that he was ready to give up power and had not given up on his country.
“I will not stop fighting, because I believe in Zimbabwe and I believe the people have a lot to be proud of,” Mugabi said.
“My goal is to give them everything that they want and I will not be stopped.”
Trump has often criticised Mugabe over the years.
He said in January 2017 that Mugabe should be tried “for all the murders” that took the lives of over 2,000 Zimbabs in the 1980s.
As president, Mugaba was accused of ordering the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians during the 1992 elections, when he was widely accused of orchestrating the violence.
Later that year, he was forced to step down after his former vice president, Robert Mugarima, was elected as president.
Mugabi has since been in exile, where many of his political allies have remained in power, and is now the country’s longest-serving head of state.
Last month, the former president’s eldest son, Robert, was jailed for a decade for murder and corruption charges.