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Europe

UN Slams Zimbabwe Violence, Nixes Runoff Vote

The violence in Zimbabwe ahead of presidential elections makes it impossible for a free and fair vote, the United Nations Security Council on Monday, June 23.

Morgan Tsvangirai

Tsvangirai welcomed the UN resolution condemning the violence

A campaign of violence has "resulted in the killing of scores of opposition activists and other Zimbabweans and the beating and displacement of thousands of people, including many women and children," according to the non-binding UN Security Council resolution.

The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai recently dropped out of the race and took refuge at the Dutch embassy in Harare. Tsvangirai announced Sunday he would not run in an attempt to prevent further bloodshed.

The situation makes it impossible to ensure that the elections scheduled for June 27 will be free and fair, the council concluded.

"There has been too much violence and too much intimidation," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters.

Resolution watered down

Many European leaders have placed blame for the current economic and political crisis on 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe's government. The UN resolution stopped short of explicitly blaming Mugabe, as proposed by the British.

The British also wanted the UN resolution to say that Tsvangirai would be the legitimate leader if a credible run-off vote could not be held.

The final UN version said only that the council "notes that the results of the (March 29 elections) must be respected." That election was won by Tsvangirai, but the government said his narrow victory necessitated a run-off vote.

The UN decision was signed by South Africa, China and Russia, three countries which had previously opposed discussion on Zimbabwe.

Elections will go forward

Mugabe's government has said the run-off election will take place Friday as planned. Mugabe, who has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, accused Western countries of lying about violence as a pretext for interfering in Zimbabwe's elections.

"Britain and her allies are telling a lot of lies about Zimbabwe, saying a lot of people are dying ... They want to build a situation to justify their intervention."

The opposition says nearly 90 of its supporters have been killed.

Europe slams Mugabe regime

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, called the election a "travesty of democracy."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Mugabe is "nothing but a crook and a murderer."

Former High Representative to Bosnia Paddy Ashdown said that countries had to be ready to intervene militarily if necessary, worrying that genocide was a "possible outcome" of the continued unrest there.

"The situation in Zimbabwe could deteriorate to a point where genocide could be a possible outcome - something that looks like Rwanda," Ashdown was quoted as saying in The Times newspaper, referring to the genocide in Rwanda in 1993.

Mugabe insists that the reports of political murders and arrests are lies.

Opposition welcomes resolution

Tsvangirai told Dutch radio on Tuesday he was happy with the UN resolution. Tsvangirai said he felt the Security Council ruling placed the blame for the violence with Mugabe's leadership.

"I am sure that he can no longer remain defiant to that international position," Tsvangirai said.

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