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The BBC's Craig Swan in Harare
"In recent weeks, the war veterans have brought their campaign into urban areas"
 real 28k

UK Foreign Office minister Brian Wilson
"We begin to wonder as to whether some elements of the veterans are out of control"
 real 28k

Saturday, 28 April, 2001, 01:26 GMT 02:26 UK
EU warns Zimbabwe over threats
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe accuses the West of backing his opponents
The European Union has expressed concern over reports of threats against foreign diplomats and aid agencies in Zimbabwe.

The EU statement follows a warning by Chenjerai Hunzvi, a ruling party legislator in Zimbabwe and leader of the country's so-called war veterans, that foreign organisations would be the next target for government supporters.

White farmer and black worker
Violence began with farm invasions last year
In its letter, the European bloc called on President Robert Mugabe's government to heed the Vienna Convention, which stipulates that host countries should provide full security for diplomatic missions and personnel.

But the Zimbabwean Government has already said it cannot guarantee the safety of diplomats and aid workers who, in its words, become involved in local politics.

The issue has aroused widespread international concern, with the Zimbabwean high commissioner in London being summoned to the Foreign Office to be told that the UK expects the rule of law to be upheld.

Embassies and aid agencies in Zimbabwe are warning staff to be vigilant.

Correspondents say that the rule of law has steadily collapsed in Zimbabwe, with farm invasions and attacks on white farmers spreading to all-out violence and intimidation against anyone who opposes Mr Mugabe's rule.

President Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party has accused Britain, the United States and the EU of backing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Foreign Office minister Brian Wilson
Mr Wilson said Britain was deeply concerned
Mr Hunzvi, whose movement spearheaded the invasion of white-owned farms, says his supporters will visit embassies and aid agencies which back the MDC to "express their displeasure".

For its part, the government says that while diplomats accredited to the country would receive the full protection of the law, those who chose to side with one political party against another could not hope for assistance from the foreign ministry.

It also advised that aid workers who allowed themselves to "indulge in partisan political work" would not be helped if they got into trouble.

The International Federation of the Red Cross responded by moving its staff to safe locations.

And, earlier this week, two German aid agencies closed their offices in Harare, after one of them was attacked by militants.

British Foreign Office minister Brian Wilson told the Zimbabwean high commissioner that Britain was "deeply concerned" by recent events.

The UK, the EU and other countries would be monitoring Zimbabwe's response very closely, Mr Wilson added.

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See also:

26 Apr 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe court boosts opposition
09 Mar 01 | Africa
Mugabe man named top judge
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