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US Condemns Use of Force in Zimbabwe - 2003-06-03

The United States Monday condemned the use of force against opposition-led demonstrations in Zimbabwe, and urged that country's neighbors to join in pressing the government of President Robert Mugabe for reforms and respect for human rights.

The State Department condemned what it termed "heavy-handed intimidation and suppression" of the protests in Zimbabwe, and expressed concern about the temporary detention of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the reported mistreatment of other jailed members of his party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

A spokeswoman here attributed the demonstrations and work stoppages under way in Zimbabwe to widespread frustration over the Mugabe government's "ruinous" economic policies and human rights abuses, and called on authorities in Harare to respect peaceful protests and restore the rule of law.

She said it is important that Zimbabwe's African neighbors also take a strong stand in defending human rights and reform there. She said without a "more forthright" African role, political change and economic recovery in Zimbabwe will be difficult.