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The BBC's Grant Ferrett in Zimbabwe
"Secretary general in for a tough time"
 real 28k

Monday, 15 May, 2000, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Commonwealth chief to meet Mugabe
don
Don McKinnon: Concerns over political intimidation
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon has arrived in Zimbabwe for talks with President Robert Mugabe, amid growing violence ahead of the general election due in the coming months.



I have hopes that today's talks will be productiver

Don McKinnon
Mr McKinnon is expected to convey his concern about political intimidation, and about the illegal occupation of more than 1,200 white-owned farms.

About 20 people - including a fourth white farmer on Sunday - have been killed in political violence since people who call themselves veterans of the independence struggle began invading white-owned farms three months ago.

Mr McKinnon told reporters he had already spoken to President Mugabe on the telephone and that "I have hopes that today's talks will be productive".

"I am sure the president will tell me of his concerns. For my part I will convey the Commonwealth's concerns regarding the developments of the last two months," the secretary-general said.

Election monitors


squatter
Squatters have occupied more than 1,200 farms
Mr McKinnon is expected during his two-day visit also to meet the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which will urge him to press the Commonwealth to send election monitors speedily to Zimbabwe.

MDC legal secretary David Coltart, said: "The international community has to understand that we need international monitors now, even though the date of the elections has not been announced.

"Members of the opposition are been increasingly harassed and at the moment the elections are unlikely to be free and fair.


mugabe
Robert Mugabe: Accuses Commonwealth of hectoring attitude
"It will be too late if they turn up even a week before the vote."

Farm attack

On Sunday, a white farmer who was shot in the stomach on Thursday, John Weeks, died of his wounds.

Mr Weeks, 65, shot during a gunfight with intruders on his farm at Beatrice south of Harare on Thursday, was the fourth white farmer to be killed during the current wave of violence.

On Saturday, squatters invaded the 490-acre cattle ranch of former prime minister Ian Smith near the town of Shurugwi.

Mr Smith, 81, said the invaders were peaceful and had not disrupted farming activities.

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06 May 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Eyewitness: Fear and intimidation
10 May 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe poll boycott threat
13 May 00 | UK Politics
UK halts arms to Zimbabwe
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