UN Human Rights Chief Says Zimbabwe Must Prevent Political Violence

Posted May 22nd, 2012 at 2:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.N. human rights chief says Zimbabwe must work to prevent a replay of the violence that undermined the country's 2008 elections.

Navi Pillay met with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare Tuesday, as she continued a five-day visit to Zimbabwe to assess the country's human rights situation.

Pillay said the prime minister convinced her of his commitment to protect human rights and hold successful elections.

She said they also discussed efforts to establish a Zimbabwean human rights commission ahead of the polls.

“This commission is very, very important, and is needed to play a role during elections.”

Rights groups say that during the 2008 elections, supporters of President Robert Mugabe killed, tortured and beat hundreds of political opponents.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Monday that the accusations were lies and called for a probe into the allegations.

After the elections, Mr. Mugabe and longtime opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai formed a unity government that remains fragile.

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections within the next year, though Mr. Tsvangirai's party insists a new constitution be drafted and approved before any polls are held.

Mr. Tsvangirai said Tuesday he hopes the forthcoming elections will be free, fair, and legitimate.

Pillay is expected to meet with President Mugabe during her visit.