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Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Obscures Hunger, Rights Abuses - Amnesty

The human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said Friday that hunger and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe are being ignored while negotiators for the main political parties haggle over ministries for a proposed power-sharing government.

Amnesty said elements of the long-ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and security forces were responsible for violence following March elections in which more than 180 Zimbabweans were murdered and more than 9,000 were tortured.

It singled out the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the national force, as a main violator.

Amnesty called for those who had committed human rights abuses to be brought to book, and accused the Mugabe government of protecting violators to keep its grip on power. It said that tolerance of abuses has allowed them to escalate.

The London-based group said no one has been held accountable for beatings, torture and other violations that between the March general election and the June 27 presidential run-off, though it said victims it interviewed could readily identify their attackers.

Amnesty expressed concern that power-sharing talks have not focused on human rights, saying that as ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change continue to dispute control of key ministries, vulnerable Zimbabweans are at risk of extreme hunger.

Amnesty international Zimbabwe researcher Simeon Mawanza told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the organization conducted its research inside Zimbabwe directly with the victimsof political violence.

But ZANU-PF Information Committee member Christopher Mutsvangwa, a former Zimbabwean ambassador to China, dismissed the report, accusing Amnesty of serving British designs to tarnish Harare's image in the international community.

Chief Whip Innocent Gonese of the MDC formation led by party founder Morgan Tsvangirai, designated as prime minister in the hoped-for national unity government. said rights abuses must no longer be committed with impunity

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