Bush Encourages World Toward Sanctions in Zimbabwe

July 7, 2008

President George W. Bush has urged the international community to punish the Zimbabwe government for suppressing its political opponents and using violence at the ballot box

“I care deeply about the people of Zimbabwe,” Bush told the G-8 annual summit in Hokkaido Toyako, Japan. “I am extremely disappointed in the elections, which I labeled a sham election.”

Incumbent Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe maintained power as the only candidate in last month’s election. His only challenger, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, withdrew from the race.

Tsvangirai said his Movement For Democratic Change party decided not to participate because of an ongoing campaign of political intimidation and violence at the hands of Mugabe supporters.

Tsvangirai won the most votes in the March 29 election, but not enough — according to official figures — to avoid a runoff.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, also at the G-8 summit, said Monday that he believes “there is growing support for sanctions against the Mugabe regime” because very few countries recognize his government.

The British prime minister added that there is growing support for a U.N. envoy to be dispatched to “to make sure that the parties in Zimbabwe know that we’ve got to work for a transition so that there is a legitimate government, one that we can support, and one, when it does exist, we will want to help with the reconstruction (of Zimbabwe).”

Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania and current head of the African Union, is one of seven African leaders at the summit. AP reported him as saying on the issue of Zimbabwe “that the only area that we may differ is on the way forward.

“We are saying no party can govern alone in Zimbabwe, and therefore the parties have to work together in a government and look at the future of their country together.”

Meanwhile UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband Monday called on South Africa to support a “way out” for neighboring Zimbabwe that includes a transitional, opposition-led government.

“I believe this is an agenda that is not a British agenda or a Western agenda but a humanitarian agenda around which the world can unite,” said Miliband in a speech at the University of South Africa in Pretoria.

The UK has been a harsh critic of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who Miliband blamed for turning “the weapons of the state against his own people” in order to retain his grip on power.

Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s only leader since independence in 1980, before which it was called Rhodesia and ruled by the UK. Britain is one of many countries that do not recognize Mugabe’s reelection.

Miliband has called for the current Mugabe government to be replaced by a transitional government to be led by Tsvangirai. He is visiting South Africa, a member of the U.N. Security Council which is expected to consider a sanctions resolution against Zimbabwe.

“The world community needs to unite at the U.N. this week not just to condemn violence but to initiate sanctions on the regime and send a human rights envoy to Zimbabwe,” Miliband said.

Story originally found @ CNN.com

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Secretly Recorded Video Shows Vote Rigging in Zimbabwe

July 5, 2008


Video secretly recorded by a Zimbabwean prison guard appears to show evidence of vote-rigging in the country’s recent presidential runoff election.

The footage, shot with a secret camera provided by the British newspaper The Guardian, was posted on the paper’s Web site Saturday. The paper said the guard had since fled the country with his family.

The video shows the guard being summoned along with other prison guards to an office at Harare’s central jail days before the June 27 runoff between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Once there, a supporter of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party instructs the guards to vote by postal ballot while he watches. The ZANU-PF supporter takes careful note of the guards’ ballot numbers and which candidate they vote for, and even helps a guard properly fold his ballot and put it inside the envelope.

“The atmosphere in the room seems benign, but it’s deceptive,” the voiceover says, adding that the ZANU-PF supporter “has the power to condemn them as MDC supporters.”

MDC is the Movement for Democratic Change, the opposition party headed by Tsvangirai.

Allegations of vote-rigging in the election are not new, but evidence of it has been rare. The Guardian said the video is believed to be the first footage of vote-rigging from the Zimbabwean election.

According to the paper, the guard made the film to draw further attention to violence and corruption in Zimbabwe. He initially wanted to chronicle secretly life inside Zimbabwe’s jails but kept filming when he found himself present for the postal voting, the paper said.

He also filmed a compulsory meeting at the jail at which top prison officers instructed the guards whom to vote for, the paper said.

As the guards sit in rows of chairs, a man at the front of the room says, “Forward with ZANU-PF! Down with MDC!” Later on, the man says, “Tsvangirai, even if you vote for him, even if he wins, he will never rule this country.”

The paper says the guard worked for the prison service for 13 years but fled the country this week with his wife and children.

“I’ve decided to leave Zimbabwe,” he tells the camera. “It is a painful decision that I should leave.”

Asked about the Zimbabwe video, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said that “there should be no question in anyone’s mind that Mugabe was not elected by the people.

“He used corruption, intimidation, and violence to keep this election from being free and fair, as the evidence seems to show every day. The international community should stand together in recognizing that the election was a sham, and Mugabe is not the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe.”

Tsvangirai dropped out of the runoff amid complaints of violence and intimidation, but his name and image remained on the ballot in what became a widely discredited one-man election. Mugabe claimed victory and was sworn in for a sixth consecutive term this week.

Mugabe has come under harsh international criticism for the election-related violence. The African Union this week stopped short of condemning him but urged dialogue between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

The opposition leader has rejected that call, saying conditions are not conducive to talks.

A draft resolution before the U.N. Security Council would impose U.N. sanctions on Mugabe and 11 senior members of his government.

The sanctions would impose a travel ban on Mugabe and the others, would freeze many of their assets, and would impose an international arms embargo on the regime.

The draft, circulated by the United States this week, expresses deep concern at voting irregularities, violence, and intimidation ahead of the runoff vote that it said made free and fair elections impossible.

Story courtesy of CNN.COM

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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe May Be Stripped of Knighthood

June 3, 2008

British officials are seriously considering revoking the knighthood of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. British TV news also reported Monday that the Foreign Office is taking steps to remove Mugabe’s honorary knighthood, awarded in 1994 by the government of Prime Minister John Major.

Revoking the title is a detailed, lengthy process that starts with the Foreign Office recommending the forfeit of the award, the spokeswoman said. That recommendation is made to the queen via the prime minister’s office. If the queen approves the recommendation, the Central Chancery of the Orders of the Knighthood is informed, according to officials (the chancery is part of the palace and organizes the knighthoods and honors). Finally, the Foreign Office notifies the recipient of the honor that it is being revoked.

Meanwhile, Mugabe used a U.N. food summit to launch an attack on his country’s old colonial master, accusing Britain of persuading other Western powers to impose policies against Zimbabwe that “cripple” his country’s economy and “thereby effect illegal regime change.” Mugabe’s presence at the Summit is causing outrage among some leaders, as he claims Britain and her allies is mounting polices and efforts to impose “illegal economic sanctions” against Zimbabwe while also cutting off “all developmental assistance”.

On the other hand, critics blame Mugabe’s policies for a dramatic drop in food production and agricultural exports in Africa’s “breadbasket”, Zimbabwe.

The African leader has frequently attacked Britain in the past. Ironically, knighthood is normally given to those trying to assist relations and situations with Britain, not merely act the country or its policies.

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