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Zimbabwe to Head UN Economic Panel Despite Objections

Zimbabwe has been selected to head a United Nations panel focused on sustainable development, despite strong objections from some Western nations.

The Commission on Sustainable Development voted by secret ballot on Friday to approve the nomination of Francis Nhema, Harare's minster of environment and tourism, to head the panel. The vote was 26-21, with three abstentions.

The chair rotates among the world's regions, with Africa getting the pick this year. Zimbabwe was chosen to represent the continent.

Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1980, with inflation running at 2,200 percent. Critics blame the economic policies of President Robert Mugabe for triggering the crisis.

The European Union and United States objected to Zimbabwe's selection because of alleged human rights abuses, and have imposed sanctions against Mugabe's government.

The commission promotes long-term economic solutions while protecting the environment.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters