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Pillay begins tour of Zimbabwe

Africa

Harare - The United Nations’ top human rights official on Sunday began a visit to Zimbabwe, where she will meet with President Robert Mugabe.

During her five-day visit, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will meet Mugabe and other officials.

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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay,right, is flanked by Zimbabwes Justice Minister while addressing journalists upon her arrival in Harare, Sunday, May, 20, 2012.Pillay is on a first ever mission by a UN Human Rights chief to Zimbabwe, at the invitation of the Government. Pillay is due to meet President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Legal Affairs and other ministers, as well as the Chief Justice, the President and Speaker of Parliament, and the Thematic Committee on Human Rights. Pillay will also meet with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and members of civil society in the country.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The 88-year-old president is widely decried by activists as one of the worst perpetrators of human rights abuses.

Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party have ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, but following failed elections in 2008, he was forced into a power-sharing government with rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who is now prime minister.

Pillay's visit comes after an invitation from the Harare government.

In February, Human Rights Watch called on world leaders to maintain pressure on Mugabe.

Despite the unity government, rights activists are frequently arrested or harassed in the course of their work. - Sapa-AFP

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