Thursday, July 10, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) Russia could block Zimbabwe sanctions

Russia could block Zimbabwe sanctions
Ralph Mutema
Wed, 09 Jul 2008 12:11:00 +0000

G8 leaders. According to the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper, Gordon Brown "used a graphic image of a man beaten to death in Zimbabwe to rally world leaders behind imposing new sanctions on President Robert Mugabe's regime."

THE world’s leading industrial nations who recently met in Japan have pledged additional measures against President Robert Mugabe after calling the June 27 election illegitimate, but all of them did not agree on the way forward.

In a joint statement, the G8 leaders condemned the way the election had proceeded saying: "We do not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people."

The statement further said, "We deplore the fact that the Zimbabwean authorities pressed ahead with the presidential election despite the absence of appropriate conditions for free and fair voting as a result of their systematic violence, obstruction and intimidation."

The leaders were unanimous in their desire to punish those who intimidated voters and perpetrated violence in the country

"We will take further steps, inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for the violence," the statement said further

They also unanimously agreed to ask the United Nations to appoint a special envoy to report on Zimbabwe's humanitarian and human rights situation.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had lobbied for a stronger statement to come out of the G8 summit condemning the government of President Robert Mugabe. He had wanted the group to declare President Mugabe illegitimate.

Speaking after the Summit, Brown said, "This is the strongest possible statement. It shows the unanimity of the whole international community, reflecting the outrage people feel about the violence and the intimidation and the illegitimate holding of power by the Mugabe government."

Despite Brown’s strong words the statement failed to use the term sanctions, as the British PM had intended

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel together with the United States had indicated that they would support a UN resolution imposing wider sanctions on President Mugabe and his government.

However, that call was not heeded by Russia which, although it signed the G8 statement on Zimbabwe concluded that the country’s leaders do not believe that in this case sanctions were an effective tool to improve the situation.

Moscow's Ambassador to the U.N. called the sanctions push excessive and suggested indicating that they could block a U.N. Security Council resolution to that effect.

"We should make it clear that the Security Council is not about to enter into the whole realm of mediating elections, or judging elections," Vitali Churkin, Russia's UN representative, said.

South Africa, also a council member, repeated its opposition to the proposed UN sanctions, but does not hold veto power in the organ.

Russian official Alexander Pankin twas quoted by DPA news agency as saying negotiations are a means of solving the crisis in Zimbabwe ― a course of action supported by the African Union.

President Mugabe’s government called the G8 statement racist and said it was an insult to African leaders.

"They want to undermine the African Union and [South African] President Mbeki's [mediation] efforts because they are racist, because they think only white people think better," said the Deputy Information Minister, Bright Matonga. "It's an insult to African leaders."

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