Harare expels top UN rights official

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has expelled a top United Nations human rights official sent to the country in the wake of reports of political violence and gross human rights abuses ahead of a presidential run-off election next week.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour told journalists on Wednesday that the official, who arrived in Harare on Sunday and was expelled on Tuesday, had been sent to help UN staff in Zimbabwe assess human rights issues ahead of the June 27 vote.

The rights official was expelled ironically on the same day that President Robert Mugabe met UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs Haile Menkerios to discuss the technical requirements of the run-off poll and how the world body could assist towards a free and fair election.

Arbour called the expulsion an example of Mugabe’s government’s very uncooperative attitude” towards UN relief agencies and international aid groups in general.

Government officials remained mum on the matter but UN diplomats in Harare said the rights official was expelled because Mugabe’s government took particular offence at the world body’s stance that there was a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

“The diplomat was kicked out on Tuesday as the government was saying he did not follow the normal diplomatic route required for him to be here, said a UN official who did not want to be named because he did not have authority to speak to the media.

The government does not want to accept that there is a problem here, the official added.

Political violence broke out in many parts of Zimbabwe almost immediately after it became clear that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had defeated Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF in elections on March 29.

The MDC accuses ZANU PF militias and the army of beating and torturing Zimbabweans into backing him in the presidential run-off ballot that is being held because Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe but fell short of the margin required to takeover the presidency.

The opposition party says that at least 66 of its members have been killed in political violence over the past two months while several thousands more had been displaced from their homes. – ZimOnline

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *