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Zimbabwean Church Leaders Criticize Mugabe

Sep. 25, 2003 • Friday September 26, 2003

Dozens of Zimbabwean Church leaders have harshly criticized the policies of President Robert Mugabe.

In a statement issued Thursday at least 59 Christian Church leaders accused the government of fostering anarchy and lawlessness throughout Zimbabwe.

The church leaders demanded the repeal of restrictive media and security laws, including those used to justify the ban of the independent newspaper Daily News earlier this month.

The statement severely criticized the government’s policy of seizing prime land from white farmers without compensation, despite Mr. Mugabe’s insistence that such land must to go to poor black farmers.

The Church leaders also called for the abolition of Zimbabwe’s “national youth service,” which primarily calls on young people to serve in Zimbabwe’s security force. They said the program is teaching recruits how to commit human rights abuses.

Mr. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since the country’s formal independence from Britain in 1980. Britain, the United States and other Western governments have accused him of rigging last year’s presidential election and of practicing an authoritarian style of government.

These countries and the opposition have also accused Mr. Mugabe of causing Zimbabwe’s current economic crisis with his land redistribution policies, a charge the president has rejected.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.

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