Zimbabwe's bishops say they will avoid party politics
Zimbabwe's bishops said they will stay out of party politics in the weeks leading to the March presidential elections.
"Our church stands to defend the people's political right to choose freely and belong to any party of their choice, just as it campaigns for the protection of all their other human rights and freedoms," the Zimbabwe bishops' conference said in an early January statement.
Tensions between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have resulted in killings and other violence, with Mugabe vowing to crack down on the opposition, labeling them "terrorists."
Mugabe has ruled the southern African country of 12.5 million people since it won independence from Britain in 1980.
"We appeal to the political leadership to publicly denounce violence and replace it with dialogue," the bishops' statement said.