Zimbabwe opposition fears crackdown, calls for election observers

Harare, Zimbabwe MapStockholm  - Members of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said Monday they feared further violence by President Robert Mugabe's government ahead of the presidential run- off.

"It is quite clear to us that Robert Mugabe is prepared to do literally anything to secure victory," David Coltart, an MDC parliamentarian, told Swedish radio news.

Coltart and other officials of his party attended a seminar Monday in the Swedish parliament to discuss recent developments in Zimbabwe.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces Mugabe, 84, in a decisive run- off June 27.

Coltart said that during the last six weeks the Mugabe government had launched a "massive country-wide campaign of torture and intimidation," claiming 43 MDC members had been murdered and others had been tortured.

"If election observers are deployed we may see a reduction in the level of violence," he said, adding that if international observers are not "quickly deployed" there was "no doubt that this violence will continue and may even escalate."

In neighbouring Norway, aid organization CARE Norway said the recent decision by Harare to stop Care International from distributing aid posed a threat to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in the southern African nation.

"We can only hope that the history of Norway and other Scandinavian countries as donors will lead to a softer response from Zimbabwe," Marte Gerhardsen, secretary general of CARE Norway, told news agency NTB. (dpa)