By Rodrigo Campos
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told the United Nations on Thursday his country is the target of "evil" actions that are hurting its economy and people as the West seeks to oust him.
Mugabe said Zimbabwe "has become a victim of the evil machinations of Western countries, namely the United States of America and the European Union, who continue to apply unilateral and illegal sanctions" as a tool to achieve regime change.
The U.S. and EU sanctions imposed on Zimbabwean state firms, as well as travel restrictions on Mugabe and dozens of his associates, were initially a response to a violent 2000 election and sometimes violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms for black resettlement.
Mugabe overwhelmingly won re-election last year but his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, denounced the poll as a "huge fraud."
Mugabe, 90, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
"Regime change is a diabolical illegal policy of interference in the domestic issues of my country," Mugabe said in his annual address to the 193-nation assembly. "No good can come from undermining our economy, or depriving our citizens of the necessities of life."
Mugabe, southern Africa's most prominent surviving liberation hero, was not invited last month to a Washington summit of African presidents hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama that looked to rekindle U.S.-Africa ties.
Britain and the United States tried unsuccessfully to persuade the U.N. Security Council in 2008 to expand the U.S. and European sanctions on Mugabe and other officials by making them binding for all U.N. member states. But Russia and China, backed by South Africa, used their veto to block it.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, editing by Louis Charbonneau and Cynthia Osterman)