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Zimbabwe Process Must Be Peaceful, Transparent

Zimbabwe's electoral process must be peaceful and transparent - Ban Ki-moon

7 May 2008 - Voicing concern over reports of politically-motivated violence and intimidation against the backdrop of Zimbabwe's ongoing stalemate, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for the next phases of the Southern African nation's elections to be free and fair.

"The Secretary-General is closely following the evolving situation in Zimbabwe, and has remained in contact with leaders in the region," according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

"He reiterates his strong belief that future stages of the electoral process must be conducted in a peaceful, credible and transparent manner in the presence of international observers."

Last week, the top UN political official said the world body stands ready to support regional diplomatic efforts to end Zimbabwe's political crisis, which began after the March presidential elections in which the incumbent Robert Mugabe was challenged by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said that he was greatly concerned over violence in Zimbabwe, particularly from the Government's side, though he added that there had been reports of clashes from both sides.

Also last week, a group of UN independent human rights experts spoke out against the violence, noting that intimidation, violence and torture were being used to take retribution against MDC supporters.

In a statement, the six rapporteurs said that there is reliable evidence that security forces, paramilitary groups and gangs have attacked the homes of MDC supporters, and of workers with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in areas where the MDC received more votes than the ruling ZANU-PF party. They reported that at least 351 people have been hospitalized, nearly 300 homes have been destroyed through politically motivated arson, 15 women have been abducted, and several people have been murdered.

As a result of the violence, which has been taking place mainly in rural areas, townships and farms, hundreds of families and individuals, mainly women and children, have been displaced internally or are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, the statement reported.

ENDS

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