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'Don't abandon us' - Zimbabwean archbishop appeals

 In the wake of the election in Zimbabwe, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, has appealed for the international community to keep up the pressure on Mugabe's government to respect human rights and stop corruption. He said: "There have been many irregularities, violence against voters, some of whom were prevented from casting their vote. Representatives of the ruling party were seen at many polling stations. The international community must listen to the few foreign observers allowed to monitor the election." "Zimbabweans want democracy" he said: "In Harare alone 80,000 people voted. The spirit of democracy is strong. 80 per cent of Zimbabweans are literate. They recognise government propaganda when they see it." "That is why the international community cannot abandon us. It must continue to pressure the Zimbabwe government to respect human rights and spend the country's resources for the good of the people." Archbishop Ncube was the first black archbishop to take charge of Matebeleland after the retirement of Bishop Henry Karlen in late 1997. An outspoken critic of the Zimbabwean government's abuse of human rights, he has had many death threats. Churches, NGOs and civic groups have also condemned the elections in Zimbabwe as' flawed, chaotic and confused'. Several groups have expressed fears that that there could be violent reprisals against opposition supporters. Brian Raftopolous, who chairs the Crisis in Zimbabwe Committee, a collection of church and civic groups said: "We are concerned about a spontaneous eruption of anger, particularly in urban areas." For more information on the Catholic church in Zimbabwe visit the Zimbabwean Catholic Bishops Conference website www.zcbc.co.zw/