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Zimbabwe:'An issue of universal principle'

In a statement to the House of Commons on 14 March 2002, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw said that Robert Mugabe's official victory in Zimbabwe's Presidential election was an outcome that had been achieved 'by any means and at all costs'.

There had been 'two years of violence and intimidation', he said, and the Zimbabwean Government had 'exploited every instrument of the State to distort the electoral process'.

Mr Straw then detailed the evidence by which the electoral process in Zimbabwe should be judged and the conclusions of the Commonwealth Observer Group and the Southern Africa Development Community Parliamentary Forum report.

He described the electoral process's failure as 'a tragedy for the people of southern Africa as a whole'.

The Foreign Secretary outlined the measures being taken by members of the international community, the EU, US Government and the Commonwealth, to 'stand by the people of Zimbabwe in the face of the deprivation and hardship heaped on them by their government'.

In conclusion, Mr Straw said 'change will have to come in Zimbabwe' and he called the conflict 'an issue of universal principle - of the right of people freely to determine their own future'. 'All democrats should speak with one voice in condemning what has taken place', he said.

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