HARARE, Zimbabwe -- The withdrawal of U.N. observers from Zimbabwe will not affect the role of other foreign observers who are in the southern African nation to make sure that upcoming parliamentary elections are free and fair, officials said Saturday.

The United Nations said Friday that President Robert Mugabe had reneged on an agreement to permit the world body's observers to coordinate all foreign observer missions and that there was not enough time for the United Nations to renegotiate its role there."If we are not doing the coordination, there is no point in us being there," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York.

However, observers from the Commonwealth of former British territories, the European Union and the 14-nation Southern Africa Development Community will remain in place to monitor the June 24-25 polling.

"We are here to see whether conditions exist for a free expression of will by electors," said Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar of Nigeria, chairman of the 44-member Commonwealth group.

Sanna Jonson, a spokeswoman for the 210-member EU observer group, said the U.N. pullout was regrettable, but "we will carry on."

The main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change, criticized the decision by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to withdraw U.N. observers.

"For any electoral process to receive the stamp of moral authority from the international community, it needs recognition from the United Nations," said party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Abubakar said the presence of international observers and about 14,000 domestic election monitors from church, human rights and civic groups at 4,000 polling stations across the country aimed to ensure voters' security and give them confidence.

The human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday it doubted that free and fair elections were possible because of a wave of land takeovers spearheaded by veterans of the war that led to independence from white minority rule in 1980. The government has ignored constitutional ownership rights and laws protecting private property during the often-violent occupations of more than 1,400 white-owned farms that began in February.

Earlier this month, the government announced the state would immediately begin seizing 804 mostly white-owned farms.

More than 5,000 cases of political violence have been reported in Zimbabwe since February, when a government-sponsored referendum on a new constitution was defeated. At least 30 people, mainly opposition supporters, have been killed.

The election poses the biggest challenge to Mugabe since he led the nation to independence from Britain in 1980. Opponents say his support for the farm occupations is a ploy to increase his vote in the poll.