Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, at Friday's launch of his election campaign in Harare.


HARARE, Zimbabwe - President Robert Mugabe said Friday his party will have to fight hard to win upcoming polls scheduled for the end of this month and ensure its political survival after three decades in power.

Speaking at the launch of his ZANU-PF party's election manifesto, Mugabe said his party will put up the "fight of our lives" to regain waning support in urban areas, strongholds of his main political opponent, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

"We have come here to regain what we lost along the way," he said. "This one will be a fight of our lives. We have to battle for survival."

Mugabe's party has been repeatedly accused of political violence, intimidation and vote-rigging in the last three general elections since 2000.

Mugabe, who was forced to form a tenuous coalition government with Tsvangirai by regional leaders after violent and disputed elections in 2008, has ruled the southern African nation since independence from colonial rule in 1980.

Mugabe, 89, will face Tsvangirai, 61, in the national vote he has set for July 31, following a May court ruling ordering him to call for early elections.

Mugabe's partners in the coalition had appealed the July election, but the Constitutional Court, the nation's highest court, upheld the date on Thursday.

Tsvangirai had asked for a delay of at least 25 days to give time to institute democratic reforms and changes to electoral laws to allow for a free and fair ballot.

Mugabe said calls for a delay by the Southern Africa Development Community, a regional, political and economic bloc known as SADC, were interfering with Zimbabwe's court processes.

Addressing tens of thousands of supporters gathered at a soccer field in Highfield, where he held his first victory rally as he was swept into power in 1980, Mugabe pleaded for support in the polls.

Tsvangirai said he won the last election in 2008, which he charged was tainted by political violence and vote-rigging.

Earlier Friday, the former opposition leader in the coalition with Mugabe canceled a news conference where he was expected to announce an opposition alliance to fight Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in the July poll. No reason was given for the cancellation.