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Top UN Official To Visit Zimbabwe Ahead Of Run-Off

Top UN political official to visit Zimbabwe ahead of presidential election run-off

11 June 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is dispatching a top United Nations official to Zimbabwe, which has been beset by deadly political violence recently, to try to resolve tensions ahead of the run-off round of the presidential election set for later this month.

Haile Menkerios, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, is expected to visit Zimbabwe from next Monday until 20 June, a spokesperson for Mr. Ban announced today.

Mr. Menkerios will discuss the political situation and the upcoming presidential election - which is scheduled to take place on 27 June - while in the Southern African country.

The visit is a follow-up to Mr. Ban's meeting last week with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Rome, conducted on the fringes of the global food crisis summit.

Mr. Mugabe will face Morgan Tsvangirai, a candidate from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in the run-off round this month after the two men scored the highest number of votes in the opening round on 29 March.

Late last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour voiced shock at reports that many MDC activists have been killed in recent weeks and that human rights defenders and staff with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also been harassed.

UN humanitarian officials have also called on Zimbabwean authorities to rescind their decision to suspend all field operations by NGO aid groups.

ENDS

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