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Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 15:45 UK

Barroso in change plea to Mugabe

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
Mr Barroso appealed for a peaceful transition to democracy

The EU has made its most outspoken remarks so far on Zimbabwe's presidential elections, saying the people voted for change and freedom.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters the votes of Zimbabweans must count, and should not be "stolen" from them.

"One thing should be clear for Mr Mugabe and his entourage," he said.

"The people of Zimbabwe want change. They want democracy, respect of human rights, freedom to express ideas."

The EU has repeatedly called for an end in the delay in publishing the results of the presidential poll - but this is the first time it has made it clear that it assumes Zimbabweans have voted for a change in rule.

'Peaceful transition'

Mr Barroso said everyone involved in the political process should now contribute to a "peaceful transition" towards a democratic society.

He added that the EU and other international donors had to be ready to help take the Zimbabwean economy out of its "coma".

British Africa minister Lord Malloch-Brown welcomed the remarks as well as the decision by South Africa's governing party leader Jacob Zuma to speak out over delayed results.

He said President Robert Mugabe had succeeded in isolating himself from the whole international community.

"We see the European Commission and, even more importantly, we've heard Zuma from South Africa and other southern African leaders speaking up," he said.





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