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Zimbabwe's Hardliners Accused of Being Behind New Violence


Top aides to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe are being blamed for a new wave of violence, coinciding with the formation of the country's power-sharing government.

The New York Times newspaper reported Friday some of Mr. Mugabe's aides are behind recent abductions of dozens of human rights and opposition activists in a bid to gain their own amnesty for crimes they committed during recent election campaigns.

The report quoted unnamed members of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party as making the allegations.

In a VOA interview Friday, the ZANU-PF chief parliamentary whip Joram Gumbo denied reports hardliners in his party wanted to destabilize the unity government. He said nobody forced ZANU-PF to join the government, and that the party is free to leave if it wanted to.

The power-sharing government has been off to a shaky start since being formed in February after months of negotiations.

Thursday, VOA's Zimbabwe service reported cabinet members belonging to ZANU-PF and top Mugabe aides had formed a group calling itself the Social Revolutionary Council. The hardline group is said to be behind new invasions of white-owned commercial farms.

President Mugabe has repeatedly said farm takeovers should continue as part of a massive land redistribution program, but his new prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, opposes them, and says anyone seizing land should be arrested.

Another new controversy is Mr. Mugabe's decision to put the telecommunications industry under the control of the ministry of transport, communications and infrastructure development.

That ministry is headed by a Mugabe ally Nicholas Goche.

The move followed a dispute between Tsvangirai ally Nelson Chamisa, who is information and communication technology minister and the ZANU-PF's Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu, with both insisting the telecommunications sector was under their control.

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