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Zimbabwe Minister Promises Investigation Of Alleged Political Violence

Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi met Wednesday with officials of the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss its allegations that political violence against its supporters is mounting, and reportedly promised the MDC that he would investigate reports of violence.

The meeting, which one MDC official described as “amicable,” appeared to produce some results, as correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported from Harare.

The MDC faction's secretary for home affairs, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, told reporters at a news conference later that the meeting was held in an “amicable” atmosphere.”

He said his delegation told Mohadi that continued violence against opposition and civil society members suggested that the ruling party was negotiating in bad faith in crisis resolution talks mediated since March by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Nkomo said the delegation urged Mohadi to set up a bipartisan liaison committee to deal with issues of politically related violence, and asked him to publicly denounce all forms of violence. He said Mohadi promised to conduct an investigation into the charges and report back to the opposition faction with his findings.

The MDC faction has stated that it might withdraw from the crisis negotiations if the violence it says is state organized or condoned does not abate.

Even Zimbabwe's human rights lawyers have appealed to the courts to order police to let them see their clients and stop intimidating and beating legal practitioners.

The meeting with Mohadi appeared to be a step towards political dialogue outside the negotiating framework established in Pretoria - but political observers say it remains to be seen whether the minister or his government will have the political will to put a halt to violence against the opposition by state security agents and ZANU-PF militants.

Senior Programs Manager Pedzisayi Ruhanya of the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition told reporter Patience Rusere that it would be difficult for the ruling party to renounce violence, which he said is one of the chief means by which it holds onto power.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...