Church officials in Zimbabwe have backed calls for an investigation into violence in the run-up to last month's parliamentary elections, which severely dented President Robert Mugabe's 20-year grip on power. President Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party fared badly in the elections, losing many of the 120 contested seats to a nine-month-old opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai. The ruling party got a narrow majority of 62 seats (MDC won 57.) This will, however, be boosted by 20 other members of parliament to be personally appointed by President Mugabe. Ten traditional chiefs from across the country also sit in the 150-member chamber. A 100-member team of Ecumenical Peace Observers, sponsored by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and drawn from the member churches of the All Africa Conference of Churches and of the World Council of Churches, wants a national inquiry into pre-election violence and compensation paid to the victims."In the meantime we are appealing once again to all political parties leaders to urge their supporters to accept the election results," ZCC general secretary Densen Mafinyane said. "They should educate their supporters on co-existence and tolerance. We will continue to pray for peace in our country."We were very impressed by the dignity and maturity displayed by our voters during the election days and we would want that spirit to prevail," he added.Contrary to the expectations of many observers, the polling days, June 24 and 25, were peaceful.The ecumenical observers' call for an inquiry was echoed by Tarcisius Zimbiti, acting director of a leading church agency, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, who said the government should ...

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