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EU Deeply Concerned Over Zimbabwe Crackdown

Commissioner Louis Michel expresses deep concern over Zimbabwe crackdown

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, has expressed his deep concern over the worsening situation in Zimbabwe. Exactly a week ahead of the second round of Presidential elections in the country, Commissioner Michel believes the Zimbabwean authorities must take immediate action to stop the campaign of smears, intimidation and violence.

Furthermore, Commissioner Louis Michel is deeply concerned at the arrest and detention of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary General Tendai Biti. The European Commission believes that the Zimbabwean authorities should release Biti amid concerns over the legality of his detention on treason charges.

"I am truly worried about the current situation in Zimbabwe which is clearly getting worse day by day. President Mugabe has the responsibility in respect of his people to ensure that there are acceptable and peaceful conditions on the run-up to the second round of Presidential elections next Friday (27th June 2008) which will allow the Zimbabweans to express their free will. The campaign of violence and intimidation must stop." He added, "I am also deeply troubled over the legality of the arrest and charges brought against Tendai Biti. Such a detention just days before the second round smacks of political intimidation. I would strongly urge the Zimbabwean authorities to release him as a positive gesture at this time."

The detention of MDC Secretary General Biti is just one example of the unacceptable crackdown by the Zimbabwean authorities on its opponents and just serves to deepen the European Commission's concern over the recent wave of violence. In addition, Commissioner Michel was deeply shocked to learn of the murder of the wife of the mayor of Harare.

Commissioner Michel went on to say, "I have always supported and continue to support our African partners' efforts at the level of SADC and the African Union to assist in ensuring appropriate conditions are in place and observed during this election period. It is crucial that more international and local electoral observers are effectively deployed on the ground with a view to ensuring the holding of the run-off election in acceptable conditions."


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