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Mugabe Accuses Opposition Party of Lying About Political Violence

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is denouncing claims by the main opposition party that his supporters are conducting a campaign of violence and terror ahead of next week's presidential run-off.

Mr. Mugabe told supporters Friday during a rally in the city of Bulawayo the claims are a lie. The president says the Movement for Democratic Change is making the accusations so they can later discredit the June 27 vote.

The MDC says at least 70 of its members have been killed since the first round of elections on March 29, when leader Morgan Tsvangirai tallied more votes than Mr. Mugabe, but not enough to avoid a run-off.

A MDC spokesman told VOA Friday that party leaders will meet Sunday to discuss withdrawing from the run-off.

Mr. Tsvangirai has been detained five times during his campaign, while MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti remains in custody facing a treason charge and other offenses. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

International leaders stepped up their criticism of the Mugabe government on Friday.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos joined a growing number of African leaders expressing doubts about the election. Angolan state radio said Mr. dos Santos called on Mr. Mugabe to stop "all acts of intimidation and violence."

Zimbabwe's police chief, Augustine Chihuri, said police have arrested 390 MDC supporters and 156 members of the ruling ZANU-PF party since the initial vote in March.

In the U.S., the chair of a congressional committee on Africa, Representative Donald Payne, told VOA there should be continued international pressure on Zimbabwe to minimize political violence before next week's poll.

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