United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, left, meets Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at State House in Harare, Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Pillay is on a first ever mission by a UN Human Rights chief to Zimbabwe, at the invitation of the Government.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

HARARE: Zimbabwe’s prime minister said on Tuesday that political violence was continuing despite denials by perpetrators who have targeted his supporters.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay a day after President Robert Mugabe’s party, in a fragile three-year coalition government, insisted to the envoy there was no state-sponsored violence in the country.

Tsvangirai, who was a victim of torture at the hands of the police ahead of violent elections in 2008, said he was striving for the next proposed elections to be “free and fair and away from violence”.

Pillay said that she had raised many “areas of concern” on violence with Tsvangirai.

Before the 2008 elections, Tsvangirai was arrested and injured in beatings by police using whips, wooden planks and iron bars in a Harare township. Several of his aides were also severely wounded. Surgeons removed the kidney of one top aide, who testified that he was repeatedly beaten.

Pillay said her mission was to find out how the coalition government was going to “protect ordinary people from such violence” in the next polls.

She said Tsvangirai had managed to convince her that he was committed to upholding human rights by setting up a human rights investigation commission before the proposed elections.

The nation’s main independent human rights groups met with Pillay earlier on Tuesday and cited concerns about continuing arbitrary arrests of Mugabe’s opponents, many of whom are still said to be languishing in prisons. – Sapa-AP