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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 01:21 GMT 02:21 UK
Fears of top UN role for Zimbabwe
A Zimbabwean woman begs
Zimbabwe's crisis has left many people desperate
Western countries are concerned about the expected appointment of Zimbabwe to head a key UN body, the Commission on Sustainable Development.

Western diplomats said Zimbabwe, which is in the midst of an economic and political crisis, was hardly a good example of development.

The position traditionally rotates through the regions of the world, with Africa next in line.

Zimbabwe's candidacy is reported to have broad support within Africa.

Zimbabwe's Environment Minister Francis Nheme is being tipped by UN diplomats to be elected to the post on Friday.

However Erik Solheim, Norway's international development minister, said some countries still hoped to block the move.

"We do not find Zimbabwe the right country to head the CSD for the next period," he said.

A US state department spokesman, Tom Casey, has said: "We don't think that Zimbabwe would be a particularly effective leader of this body."

He said development there had "been going in only one direction - and it's backwards".

Power cut back

Zimbabwe is enduring the world's highest inflation, at more than 2000%, mass unemployment, and there are widespread accusations of civil rights abuses.

On Wednesday it was announced that households in Zimbabwe were to be limited to four hours' electricity a day, between 1700 and 2100 local time.

The measure, to ensure that wheat farmers are guaranteed the power needed to irrigate their crops, will be in place for the next three months, the state power provider said.

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