Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mugabe aides said to use violence to get amnesty

from the NYTimes

HARARE, Zimbabwe — President Robert Mugabe’s top lieutenants are trying to force the political opposition into granting them amnesty for their past crimes by abducting, detaining and torturing opposition officials and activists, according to senior members of Mr. Mugabe’s party.... now that the opposition has a place in the nation’s new government, these strongmen worry that they are suddenly vulnerable to prosecution, especially for crimes committed during last year’s election campaign as the world watched.

....To protect themselves, some of Mr. Mugabe’s lieutenants are trying to implicate opposition officials in a supposed plot to overthrow the president, hoping to use it as leverage in any amnesty talks or to press the opposition into quitting the government altogether, ruling party officials said.,,,

The crimes committed to entrench Mr. Mugabe’s rule date back to the 1980s, when thousands of civilians from Zimbabwe’s Ndebele minority in Matabeleland were killed by the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Army brigade, according to historians....
Other political crimes include widespread attacks on the opposition in 2000, 2002 and 2005, and most gruesomely last year. Beyond that, a vast 2005 slum clearance effort known as Operation Murambatsvina, or Get Rid of the Filth, drove 700,000 people in opposition bastions from their homes.

Last year, close to 200 people were killed, mostly before the June presidential runoff...Last year, as it did in the 1980s, Mr. Mugabe’s loyalists cut off food aid to hungry areas, blocked access to foreign journalists, sent party youth brigades to terrorize the countryside, charged their rivals with treason and used abduction, torture, arson and killings to silence critics...

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