Zimbabwe′s president guilty of ′gross human rights abuses,′ says opposition | News | DW | 25.01.2019
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Zimbabwe's president guilty of 'gross human rights abuses,' says opposition

Opposition figure Tendai Biti says President Emmerson Mnangagwa is to blame for the alleged human rights abuses being carried out against people in Zimbabwe. In an interview with DW, he urged the UN to intervene.

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Opposition leader Tendai Biti calls on the UN to intervene in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean opposition politician Tendai Biti has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of orchestrating the violence gripping the southern African country.

"He is the author of the current crackdown," Biti told DW in an interview. "He is the author of the gross human rights abuses that have been committed against the civilian population."

Nationwide protests, rioting and looting erupted in Zimbabwe last week after a steep rise in the cost of fuel. Security forces responded with a brutal crackdown to disperse the demonstrators. At least 12 people have died in the unrest, according to NGOs operating in the country. More than 1,000 people have been arrested, including several opposition activists and politicians.

Read moreZimbabwe president pledges probe into protest crackdown

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Zimbabwe president pledges to investigate violence

Reports of rape, torture

On Friday, human rights groups alleged that women had been raped by security forces during house-to-house searches. A report from the country's government-appointed human rights commission said soldiers had also used "systematic torture."

"The most unacceptable thing is the use of rape as a political weapon, the number of women that are being raped — the cases are increasing, the military has taken over, and it's just not acceptable," Biti said.

President Mnangagwa, who replaced longtime leader Robert Mugabe in 2017, has condemned the violence as "unacceptable" and vowed to investigate the security forces' alleged actions. The government, however, accuses the opposition of fueling the unrest.

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"In our constitution only the president deploys the military," Biti said. "So the buck stops squarely with him. If he had wanted to stop the military, he would have stopped the military the minute he came back from his jaunt in Russia, in Belarus and in Kazakhstan."  

Biti, the deputy national chairman of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance and a former finance minister, called on the United Nations to intervene by sending a peacekeeping force.

"The UN Security Council should call for the immediate withdrawal to their barracks of Zimbabwean troops [and] ... consider the deployment of a peacekeeping mission as a matter of urgency," he said.

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