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UN Chief Says Free Zimbabwe Prisoners; Mission Sees 'Grave' Crisis

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, visiting South Africa, called Wednesday for the national unity government in Zimbabwe to free all political prisoners and fully implement power sharing, while a U.N. delegation visiting Zimbabwe concluded a humanitarian needs assessment and reported an "extremely grave" situation in the country.

VOA Correspondent Scott Bobb reported from Pretoria on Ban's call for the release of Roy Bennett, a deputy minister-designate arrested Feb. 13 and now held on charges that he had possessed weapons with intent to commit terrorism, among other detainees.

For perspective, reporter Blessing Zulu turned to senior researcher Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group in Pretoria who said Ban's visit conveyed international sentiment on the new government in Harare forged from President Robert Mugabe's long-ruling ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Meanwhile, a five member U.N. delegation that arrived in Zimbabwe Saturday to assess the complex humanitarian crisis besetting the country concluded its mission Wednesday voicing concern that the situation remains “extremely grave," as Sylvia Manika reported.

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