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Escalating Violence In Zimbabwe 'Unacceptable'

Escalating violence in Zimbabwe 'unacceptable,' says UN political chief

19 June 2008 - The top United Nations political official today called the escalating violence in Zimbabwe "unacceptable," adding that, should current conditions prevail, it would be difficult for the international community to recognize the outcome of next week's run-off presidential poll.

"It is of utmost importance that the violence is stopped immediately and that humanitarian assistance is facilitated, not prevented," Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said.

Attending a round table on Zimbabwe at UN Headquarters on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Pascoe added that the country is currently so polarized that whatever the result of the election, a "winner-takes-all" strategy will not bring peace and stability to the country.

"We must be prepared to send a strong message to ensure that the will of the Zimbabwean people is respected and to call for renewed efforts to restore security and the rule of law in the country," he stressed.

President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are set to face each other in the run-off scheduled for 27 June.

The Southern African nation has been beset by deadly violence since the first round of the presidential election on 29 March. Many MDC activists have reportedly been killed or injured in recent weeks and human rights defenders and staff with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) harassed.

Commenting on the humanitarian situation, Mr. Pascoe said that the current political crisis is compounding an already deep social, economic and humanitarian crisis, in a country where as many as 4 million people are vulnerable and in need of help.

While the Government has now lifted the suspension of field operations for NGOs running supplementary feeding schemes and those involved in AIDS-related issues, the humanitarian space remains very restricted, he said.

Mr. Ban has dispatched another senior UN official, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios, to Zimbabwe to discuss these issues with the parties. Mr. Menkerios has met with Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai, as well as the Foreign Minister, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, church leaders and civil society groups, including human rights organizations.

ENDS

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