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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Takes Oath on Sunday - 2002-03-15


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will be sworn in to a new six-year term on Sunday, following his controversial win in nationwide polling last week.

Mr. Mugabe was re-elected amid numerous allegations that his administration suppressed supporters of his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Thursday his country has withdrawn all funding from the government of Zimbabwe and its officials will not be welcome in Canada.

A Commonwealth observer group has stated the vote did not reflect the true will of the people because thousands of voters were disenfranchised and elections were held in a climate of fear.

A three-member team -- the leaders of Nigeria, South Africa and Australia -- will meet next week to develop a recommendation for action. They could suggest sanctions against Zimbabwe, or even recommend throwing the nation out of the Commonwealth, which includes Britain and its former colonies.

The Bush administration says Mr. Mugabe stole the election. The United States says it is weighing its response with the European Union and a number of African governments and may impose new sanctions. Those could include a freeze on assets kept in the United States by the Zimbabwean leadership.

Mr. Tsvangirai says he does not accept the election results. The opposition leader has accused Mr. Mugabe's administration of rigging the vote.

The inauguration was initially set for Saturday, but an Information Ministry spokesman told V-O-A today (Friday) it has been delayed by a day.

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