UN Rights Chief Meets Zimbabwe President

Posted May 23rd, 2012 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.N. human rights chief says Zimbabwe's longtime President Robert Mugabe blamed the country's current problems on its past during talks in Harare.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay met with Mr. Mugabe on Wednesday.

Pillay described the meeting as “very important” saying that during the talks President Mugabe outlined some of Zimbabwe's historical events and how they related to current issues.

Pillay says she commended Mr. Mugabe's recent calls to end political violence.

“And I also urged him to ensure that the future elections will be free and fair and free from violence. ”

The 88-year-old president did not speak after the talks.

Pillay is on a five-day visit to Zimbabwe to assess the country's human rights situation.

Rights groups say that during the 2008 elections, supporters of President 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 should be drafted and approved before any polls are held.

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