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Zimbabwe Says Britain, US Pushing For Regime Change Via Elections

Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa charged Tuesday that Great Britain and the United States are stoking tensions in the country ahead of March elections in an effort to bring about regime change, warning Harare would not tolerate interference.

Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, speaking at the Institute of Security Studies in South Africa, presented what he said was a letter from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Law Society of Britain in which he is purported to have promised to keep funding Zimbabwean groups working for "democratic change.’’

"From the West's point of view, the electoral process in Zimbabwe can only be free and fair if and as when President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF have been removed from office," AP quoted Moyo as telling journalists and diplomats in Pretoria. "They cannot be free and fair unless London or Washington says so."

Law Society spokesman Steve Rudaini confirmed Brown wrote to Andrew Holroyd, the society's president, about the situation in Zimbabwe. Rudaini said the letter was no longer available and had been previously made public in error.

The U.S. Embassy in Harare recently released an open letter by Ambassador James McGee citing "ominous signs" that the presidential, general and local elections to be held March 29 will not be free and fair. But he urged Zimbabweans to exercise their rights and fulfill their democratic duty by voting, although "past experience may engender skepticism" and "a growing chorus" is expressing doubts.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper called the envoy's remarks "unwarranted" and added that Zimbabweans "do not need Uncle Sam's supervision."

Senior Researcher Chris Maroleng of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Moyo’s comments are standard fare from the Zimbabwean government vis à vis the West.

In Zimbabwe, meanwhile, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri said officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police are ready to use deadly force in response to violence before, during and after national elections set for March 29.

Chihuri told journalists at police headquarters in Harare that police can invoke the Public Order and Security Act which he said authorizes an officer to use deadly force if he “finds other methods to be ineffective or inappropriate.”

The police commissioner also warned the political opposition and civil society groups against Kenyan-style street demonstrations following the elections.

He said machetes, axes and arrows cannot put anyone in office and that the police would not allow violence such as that seen in Kenya to take place.

Responding, Security and Intelligence Secretary Giles Mutsekwa of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe's top law enforcement officer clearly holds a bias in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

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