"We are the government, we will not be deterred by any criticisms which are completely unfounded from carrying out our duties," Mugabe said at the youth party meeting.

 

He added that the opposition risked further violent treatment if they stage more protests.

 

"If they repeat it they will get arrested and get bashed by the police," he said.

 

"If they want to fight the police, the police have the right to bash."

 

He said that following threats by the opposition to press ahead with protests to topple him, police officers would be armed to defend themselves.

 

International outrage

 

Tsvangirai, head of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had been treated for head injuries since Tuesday, two days after he and supporters were arrested in an anti-Mugabe protest.
 
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Images of a badly bruised and limping Tsvangirai entering the hospital earlier this week fuelled international outrage.
 
The United States and other nations threatened to tighten sanctions against Mugabe and other senior Zimbabwean officials.
 

William Bango, a MDC spokesman, said on Friday that Tsvangirai would now rest at home.

 

Bango said: "He is still swollen and in pain, but he feels it's better to recuperate from home ... he is still not himself."

 

He said Tsvangirai was still suffering from dizziness. Doctors have not confirmed a fracture.

 

Mugabe's government accused Tsvangirai and his group of resisting arrest and waging a violent, militia-style campaign to topple the 83-year-old ruler, a claim the opposition rejected.

 

Tsvangirai and others who were arrested in the crackdown face charges of public violence and convening an illegal rally, defence lawyers say. The charges usually lead to fines, not imprisonment.

Source: Agencies