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US Senate Urges Southern African Leaders To Take Harare To Task

The U.S. Senate has urged the Southern African Development Community to bring appropriate pressure on the government of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to engage his political opposition to resolve his country's deepening crisis.

The Senate passed the resolution late Monday in the approach to an extraordinary summit called by SADC in the Tanzanian capital of Dar-es-Salaam to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe and political bloodshed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The U.S. senators urged all responsible governments, civic organizations, religious leaders and international bodies to condemn human rights violations in Harare. The senate said it would holds individual police, security force members and militia in Zimbabwe responsible for whatever acts of violence they have committed.

International outrage was sparked when images of battered opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, emerging from police custody, were broadcast worldwide on March 13.

SADC sources said Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete would brief regional leaders Thursday on the position of the SADC panel on politics, defense and security which he chairs. Zimbabwe presidential spokesman George Charamba told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that Mr. Mugabe would also brief the summit on the situation.

However, SADC leaders, in a dramatic change brought about by the graphic images of Zimbabwean opposition members allegedly subjected to brutal beatings by police, are said to be keen to grill Mr. Mugabe on the deteriorating conditions in his country. The economy is close to total collapse and food supplies are short across Zimbabwe.

Peter Kagwanja, director of democracy and governance programs for the Human Science Research Council in South Africa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the U.S. Senate resolution is a sensible one.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...