Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe to respond to U.N. report at "appropriate time"

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Harare (dpa) - The Zimbabwe government is studying a United Nations report on a controversial government campaign of shack and home demolitions and President Robert Mugabe will respond to it at an "appropriate time", it was reported Friday.

Zimbabwe's representative to the U.N. Boniface Chidyausiku told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that Zimbabwe is not facing an "inquisition" and therefore was not under pressure to immediately respond to the report.

The report was compiled by U.N. envoy Anna Tibaijuka following her two-week fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe in June.

The envoy was sent by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to assess the humanitarian impact of Operation Restore Order, a controversial campaign of house and shack demolitions in Zimbabwe's towns and cities that human rights groups say has left at least 300,000 people homeless.

The Zimbabwe government was given a copy of the report on Wednesday. The U.N. says the document will be made public either on Friday or early next week.

In a statement issued earlier this week Annan said he was "increasingly concerned" by the effects of Operation Restore Order, which has been condemned by many Western countries, as well as by churches and human rights groups.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the campaign is an attack on its supporters, most of whom live in urban areas.

Mugabe's government says it plans to build two million new houses by 2010, but admits it has not budgeted for the massive exercise. dpa rt ch

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