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Human Rights Watch Urges Southern Africa to Press Zimbabwe on Reform

International advocacy group Human Rights Watch called Thursday on the Southern African Development Community to make any economic rescue package for Zimbabwe contingent on the Harare government putting an end to human rights abuses in the country.

A Human Rights Watch statement said the international community should release longer-term development assistance if Harare halts farm seizures, prosecutes perpetrators of post-election political violence committed in 2008 and releases all political prisoners.

President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday rejected allegations that seizures of white-owned farms continues along with human rights abuses by police and security forces.

Mr. Mugabe said after meeting Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim that he will not kneel to donors, telling those who attach strings to aid to “go hang.”

At the same time, however, Finance Minister Tendai Biti warned that if the country cannot organize funding for its operations Zimbabwe could become a failed state like Somalia.

Human Rights Watch Zimbabwe Researcher Tiseke Kasambala told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that an economic rescue package alone cannot end the crisis because without reform on rights and the rule of law large donors will stay away.

ZANU-PF Chief Whip Joram Gumbo said Harare must be given time and unconditional aid.

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