UN notes growing reports of voter intimidation in Zimbabwe

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Voter intimidation, threats of violence and coercion including people forced to attend political rallies are being increasingly reported ahead of Zimbabwe’s elections on July 30, especially in rural areas, the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday.

“There has also been the worrying use of disparaging language against female political candidates,” U.N. human rights spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell told a news briefing in Geneva.

“We call on the authorities – and political parties and their supporters – to ensure that the elections are not marred by such acts so that all Zimbabweans can participate free from fear in a credible election process,” she said.

At the same time Throssell welcomes the peaceful demonstrations and the presence of human rights groups ahead of the July 30 vote, the first since longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure.

The race has narrowed between President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe deputy, and opposition challenger Nelson Chamisa. Mnangagwa has pledged a free and fair election, key to lifting international sanctions

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