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UN Chief’s Comments Hearten Zimbabwe Opposition

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan moved the Zimbabwe debate up a notch in comments published Thursday on the front page of the Financial Times, saying the African political leadership must break its collective silence on Harare's program of home demolitions if it wants to be credible in the eyes of the world.

Former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark noted, however, in an interview with the Voice of America, that Mr. Annan’s were in response to a question from the FT reporter, as opposed to being a deliberate statement of U.N. policy.

Nigerian President Olushegun Obasanjo, currently chairman of the African Union, told reporters in London meanwhile that he will not publicly condemn Mr. Mugabe.

Many international and local political observers believe the solution to the Zimbabwe crisis lies in intervention by other African leaders, verbal or otherwise.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe sought insight on the significance of the secretary general’s statement from Marion Tupy, assistant director of the Project on Global Economic Liberty at the Cato Institute in Washington.

The secretary general’s comments were hailed by Zimbabwe human rights groups.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights activist Otto Saki tells Studio Seven reporter Patience Rusere that Mr. Annan’s comments are a step in the right direction.