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Zimbabwean Churches Appeal For Help to Solve Election Crisis

Zimbabwean church leaders say people are being abducted, tortured and murdered in a campaign against the country's main opposition party.

In a statement Tuesday, a coalition of Christian churches appealed for international help, saying the violence could reach genocidal proportions if nothing is done.

Last week, Human Rights Watch said Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party is using informal detention centers to beat and torture supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Zimbabwe's government has denied all accusations of state-sponsored political violence. The state-run Herald newspaper today quoted Zimbabwe's justice minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying anyone with information about such violence should contact police.

The violence allegedly began soon after the country's disputed March 29th presidential
election. The MDC says its candidate Morgan Tsvangirai defeated President Robert Mugabe. But, no results have been released, prompting accusations that Mr. Mugabe is trying to cling to power.

The opposition says Mr. Mugabe's government is holding back the results so it can alter them and orchestrate a run-off. The electoral commission began a recount in selected districts Saturday over MDC objections.

Mr. Tsvangirai has been traveling around Africa seeking support for his effort to have the results declared and to retire Mr. Mugabe. On Monday, he met with former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.