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Zimbabwe Healing & Reconciliation Panel Urges Parties to Renounce Violence

Zimbabwe's Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration has written to the three leaders of the country's main political parties - who are also the principals in the national unity government installed in February - urging them to preach nonviolence to their supporters.

The call to President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the main formation of the Movement for Democratic Change, and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, head of the smaller MDC grouping, followed a spate of violent incidents.

Healing Organ Chairman John Nkomo, chairman of ZANU-PF, was quoted by the state-run Herald newspaper as saying the country can no longer tolerate divisions and that the police are under strict orders to arrest anyone from any political party engaging in violence.

This move followed a government declaration officially gazetted last week dedicating Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week to national healing and reconciliation.

Mr. Mugabe in the declaration guaranteed the safety of all Zimbabweans in the diaspora who return to the country and asked non-governmental organizations not to promote violence.

Minister of State Gibson Sibanda, who is attached to the president's office and is responsible for healing and reconciliation issues, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the call to the leaders was necessary in light of recent incidents, adding that the unity government's success depends on the maintenance of civil peace.

But Abel Chikomo, executive director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, voiced skepticism, saying it is mainly incumbent on ZANU-PF to renounce violence.

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