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Top Zimbabwe Army General Urges Soldiers to Back Mugabe

Zimbabwe's state-run "Herald" newspaper says a senior army officer has told the nation's soldiers to vote for President Robert Mugabe or quit the military.

Saturday, the "Herald" reports Army Chief of Staff Martin Chedondo told troops at a shooting range outside the capital, Harare, Friday to stand behind Mr. Mugabe as commander-in-chief. It quoted Chedondo as saying soldiers who do not agree, should in his words, "remove that uniform."

The paper also said Chedondo accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change of attacking ruling ZANU-PF party supporters. The two sides have accused each other of carrying out frequent systematic attacks on opponents.

Zimbabweans are to vote on June 27th in a run-off presidential election between Mr. Mugabe and MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr. Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first round of the election. His party says he won outright, but official results show he fell short of the majority needed to avoid a second round.

The MDC says 50 of its supporters have been killed. Human rights groups and the U.S. ambassador, James McGee, blame the government for the violence.

The United Nations Children's Fund this week said political violence has displaced up to 10-thousand children in Zimbabwe.