Former colonies condemn violence

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The Independent Online

The Commonwealth last night declared its "deep concern" at events in Zimbabwe and sent its Secretary-General, Don McKinnon, to convey its feelings in person.

A crisply worded statement after a meeting of CMAG, the body's eight-nation ministerial action group, condemned the on-going violence, loss of life, illegal occupations of property, failure to uphold the rule of law, and the political intimidation in the run-up to the elections.

Afterwards Robin Cook, the British Foreign Secretary said he was "fully satisfied" with the text. "This should see the end of attempts in Harare [the capital of Zimbabwe] to portray Britain as a lone voice. No one can look at this statement and think that that is so."

The Commonwealth ministers took no economic or diplomatic sanctions against Zimbabwe. But they vowed to send observers to monitor the elections - with the first group arriving as soon as possible, given the political intimidation of the opposition that is already underway.

Mr McKinnon's visit is expected to take place within the next week or two. The former New Zealand foreign minister said he would be conveying the message of yesterday's discussions to President Robert Mugabe in no uncertain terms.