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Zimbabwe Enacts Restrictive New Media Law - 2002-03-15

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has enacted a restrictive new media law, two days after being declared the winner of an election Western countries are condemning as fraudulent.

The law requires reporters to seek accreditation from a government-appointed panel and severely restricts the activities of foreign-based correspondents.

Meanwhile, news reports from South Africa say Pretoria is trying to press Mr. Mugabe into forming a national unity government with supporters of his election opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. Mr. Mugabe is said to have rejected the request.

Mr. Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, has refused to recognize the election results, which credit him with 41 percent of the vote, to Mr. Mugabe's 56 percent.

Local human rights watchdogs and Western election observers say government supporters harassed opposition activists during the poll. They also complained of apparent attempts by the government to slow down the voting process in urban, opposition-friendly precincts.

South African and Nigerian officials have declared last week's poll legitimate, while Western countries are denouncing what they call massive election fraud. Britain has refused to recognize the results. Denmark, Canada and Germany have suspended their aid to Zimbabwe.

Mr. Mugabe is to be sworn in for a new six-year term Sunday.