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African Union Tacitly Criticizes Harare On Human Rights, Democracy

The African Union's top administrative official Monday issued what observers said was the continental body's first reprimand - albeit tacit - of Harare over its alleged human rights transgressions, but some faulted the AU for the mild tone of its statement.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwean delegation to talks among African, Caribbean and Pacific ministers and their European Union counterparts seemed likely to receive a cold welcome on Tuesday when discussions open in Brussels, a top ACP-EU official said.

Glennys Kinnock, co-president of the EU-ACP joint parliamentary assembly, declared herself outraged that Zimbabwe officials would be admitted to the assembly given mounting violence against opposition officials and members in the country.

Four ZANU-PF officials were headed for Brussels on Monday: Chitungwiza Senator Forbes Magadu, Guruve MP Edward Chindori-Chininga, Masvingo South MP Walter Mzembi and Gutu parliamentarian Enita Maziriri.

Kinnock told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that certain action will be taken at the ACP-EU meeting to send the message that the international community finds the violent crackdown on Zimbabwe’s opposition unacceptable.

Meanwhile,the African Union was urging all parties in Zimbabwe to open a dialogue to end the crisis. African Union Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare, the former president of Mali, issued a statement that stressed the need to respect human rights and democratic principles - tacitly criticizing the Zimbabwean government.

Critics say they are encouraged by this first formal criticism of Harare from the African Union since the sharp government-opposition confrontation started a week ago. But they expressed disappointment at the muted, broad nature of Konare’s remarks.

Communications Officer Assane Ba of the African Union's peace and security department told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Konare's nuanced language was in line with African Union protocol.

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