Franciscans in Zimbabwe Reject Election Results

HARARE, Zimbabwe, APRIL 19, 2002 ( Franciscans working in Zimbabwe say the elections held in March were fraudulent, the Catholic African news agency CISA reported.

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Catholics have joined other civic bodies and international communities in rejecting the elections, which kept President Robert Mugabe in power, saying they were characterized by intimidation, beatings, arson and disenfranchisement.

Observers maintain that thousands were deprived of their right to vote. Youth groups and the unemployed were used to destabilize the elections through the use of violence and rape.

The so-called fast-track land distribution policy has paralyzed agriculture, causing famine. Party membership is used as a requirement for food assistance.

Meanwhile, in Geneva today, the top United Nations rights watchdog decided to avoid discussion of a resolution condemning abuses in Zimbabwe.

Full debate on the subject was blocked after Nigeria introduced a counter-resolution calling for «no action» at the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the Associated Press reported.

Some 26 developing nations, supported by Russia, voted to block discussion of the European Union resolution. They were opposed by 24 European and Latin American countries. Three countries abstained.

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