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Zimbabwe Violence Rose in February, Group Says

Politically motivated violence directed mainly at Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change party rose in February, the Zimbabwe Peace Project said in an e-mailed statement today.

More than 400 cases of violence were recorded by the group, which monitors human rights in the southern African nation. The ZPP didn’t say how many cases of violence were recorded in January.

“The increase can be directly related to rising political tension as a result of the move to push for elections this year,” the ZPP said.

President Robert Mugabe, who leads the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party, has repeatedly called for elections this year to end a power sharing agreement with the MDC in place since 2009.

Calls to Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo weren’t answered when Bloomberg News sought comment today.

MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said in a telephone interview from Harare that his party had received increased complaints of violence against MDC supporters, as well as the withholding of emergency food rations.

“Reports of violence continue, as well as the withholding of food in drought-stricken areas, and that’s a form of violence in itself,” Mwonzora said today.

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the MDC, led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have shared power since 2009, when the Southern African Development Community said elections in 2008 didn’t meet regional standards of fairness. Presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2008 led to the murder of about 200 MDC supporters, the party says.

Under the SADC-brokered agreement now in place, Zimbabwe can’t hold elections until a new constitution has been approved by a national referendum.

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