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UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
"We need to ensure that free and fair elections do go ahead"
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Sunday, 2 April, 2000, 22:43 GMT 23:43 UK
UK warns Zimbabwe visitors
EU-Africa summit
Delegates meet for the EU-Africa summit
The Foreign Office has warned people travelling to Zimbabwe to be alert for signs of disruption after violence during a march in the capital Harare.

But a spokesman stressed people are not being advised against travelling to the country.

"Recent violence connected to election campaigning has included a demonstration in the centre of Harare on 1 April," it said.

"Some of the violence was directed towards white people either demonstrating or watching nearby.

"Visitors should be on the alert for signs of disturbances and avoid these where possible."

The FO has also asked people to check on the situation before staying in rural areas.

Cook promises pressure

"A number of commercial farmers have recently had their properties illegally occupied and threats of violence have been made," it said.

UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has promised to increase pressure on Zimbabwe at a summit in Cairo to be attended by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

He condemned the violence and insisted the EU would demand "the right of peaceful demonstrators to carry out their peaceful demonstrations".
Violence at protest
Demonstrators fleeing from police
Raising the question of the delay of elections in Zimabawe, Mr Cook added: "There should be free and fair elections and they should be properly monitored and observed."

Every new development in Zimbabwe reinforced the importance of its citizens having a role in determining the country's future, he said.

Mr Cook is to call on his European colleagues to insist, alongside Britain, that open elections went ahead.

Conservative rift

The situation in Zimbabwe exposed a rift in Conservative ranks.

Speaking on GMTV, Conservative leader William Hague said: "This government needs to restore better relations with Zimbabwe and use better influence.

"Our government seems to have lost all influence there altogether. It needs to be able to carry some weight there which they are clearly not able to do at the moment."

But his shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude reiterated calls for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth.

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See also:

01 Apr 00 | Africa
More Zimbabwe protests planned
01 Apr 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe protests turn violent
01 Apr 00 | Africa
March against land invasions
28 Mar 00 | Africa
Britain's troubles with Mugabe
10 Mar 00 | Africa
Why Zimbabwe distrusts the UK
09 Mar 00 | UK Politics
UK recalls Zimbabwe commissioner
16 Feb 00 | Africa
UK calls for Zimbabwe reforms
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