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Zimbabwe church leaders meet Mugabe

Three leading bishops met President Robert Mugabe, in an effort to ease tensions between the government and the main opposition party.

State television reported that Patrick Mutume of the Catholic Bishops Conference met the President together with two Protestant bishops. The discussions, which took place on Friday in the presence of senior members of Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party, concerned how the church could mediate in the crisis.

All three church leaders have protested recently about the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

The ruling Zanu PF party's national chairman John Nkomo said on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation: "The meeting went extremely well. It became a meeting of people who were at one in terms of the appreciation of the state of affairs in the country and the desire to bring about normalcy."

For the first time in three years opposition MDC legislators decided not to boycott Mugabe's speech marking the opening of parliament. The MDC, which holds 54 of the 150 seats in parliament, said it had decided to attend to create an environment for political dialogue.

Mugabe's speech to the house also omitted his usual verbal attacks on the MDC, which he has denounced as a puppet of Western countries led by former colonial power Britain.

Independent Catholic News

Zimbabwe Church Leaders Meet Mugabe Over Crisis (Reuters)
Mugabe holds talks with churches (Mail & Guardian South Africa)

29 Jul 2003