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Ambassador: US Not Against Mugabe's Party

The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe says the United States is not against the party of President Robert Mugabe, which it has accused of human rights abuses.

In a speech on U.S.-Zimbabwean relations, Ambassador Charles Ray said "the U.S. does not favor one party over another in Zimbabwe."

He said the U.S. is "not anti-ZANU-PF," and recognizes the party's achievements for the good of Zimbabwe's people.

But Ray said the U.S. believes other parties, including the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have critical roles to play in Zimbabwe's future.

He also said the United States wants to see non-violent and credible elections in Zimbabwe where the people's will is honored.

In its most recent human rights report, the U.S. State Department said ZANU-PF supporters use beatings, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests to abuse and harass political opponents and obstruct their activities.

It also said the party has repeatedly violated the Global Political Agreement, the basis of the current unity government.

ZANU-PF and the MDC formed the unity government after the disputed 2008 elections, which observers said were seriously marred by violence, most of it committed by ZANU-PF supporters.

Ambassador Ray made the remarks in Harare last Thursday. His speech was posted this week to the website of the U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.