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Zimbabwe: David Miliband On Tsvangirai Withdrawal

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (UK)

Zimbabwe: Morgan Tsvangirai withdraws from election race (22/06/2008)

Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, took part in an interview on Sky TV offering his reaction to the news that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn from the presidential election race in Zimbabwe. The Foreign Secretary also commented on Mr Tsvangiria's withdrawal on the BBC news.

Colin Brazier: Well the foreign secretary David Miliband joins us now live from our Westminster studio, Foreign Secretary a very good evening to you - how surprised if at all were you at Mr Tsvangirai's decision to withdraw?

Foreign Secretary: Good evening - well I think that the state sponsored violence we that are now hearing about and seeing has made it farcical to talk about a free and fair election. And so in that sense we have reached an absolutely critical moment in the drive by the people of Zimbabwe to rid themselves of the tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe. He has made, and his thugs have made, an election impossible and so now we face a critical crisis of legitimacy because it's clear that the only people with any shred of democratic legitimacy are the people who won the 29 march 1st round, and that was the opposition.

CB: You characterise Mugabe's rule as tyrannical. Is it genocidal as Mr Tsvangirai suggests?

Foreign Secretary: Well I think that the latest figures are 84-85 people have been killed in the election campaign alone. 1000s have been injured and brutally beaten up so I think what you're seeing is state sponsored violence on a very large scale. It is state sponsored violence with one clear motivation, which is not ethnic cleansing per se, but the desire to remain in power and it is the power structure that is now the critical issue. Because as I say the only people who won the parliamentary elections or the presidential election 1st round on the 29 March were the opposition. The fact that they have been unable to turn their support out in a final round is because of the violence that's taking place

CB: How then can you undermine those power structures as you call them - the outside world has not really been heeded by Mugabe even important African, Powerful African voices - Tanzania, Botswana - they've all really fallen on deaf ears as far as what's happening inside Zimbabwe - what role then for the United Nations? Another hearty worded communiqué really won't do anything will it?

Foreign Secretary: Well I think the UN does have a big role and of course up to now it hasn't yet been able to find a voice but I think the fact that Africans are now speaking up - the Tanzanians most obviously but also Angola, Botswana the ANC leader and the African national congress leader in South Africa. Africans are now speaking up in a way that they haven't before and it's not surprising really - there are 3 or 4 million refugees out of Zimbabwe elsewhere in southern Africa and certainly we will be supporting very strongly the drive at the UN for a full discussion tomorrow at tomorrows UN security council session. I think that is important. It's also important that African leaders continue to make clear that a government which violates the constitution in Zimbabwe because remember the 2nd round was meant to happen within 30 days of the 1st round and we're now 3 or 4 months on. A government that violates the constitution of Zimbabwe cannot be held as a legitimate representative of the Zimbabwean people

CB: Presumably you will see diplomatic/intelligence dispatches from southern Africa which won't be available to the public. Is it your sense now that generals or a some kind of military junta are effectively bossing Zimbabwe?

Foreign Secretary: I think Zimbabwe is being bossed by Robert Mugabe and by his henchmen and he remains the apex of power despite the fact that the people of Zimbabwe deserted him quite a long time ago - all of our indications are that the 49% of the vote that the opposition received - the main opposition party received in March is actually the lower end the support that the opposition have and if you include many of the other factions that didn't support Robert Mugabe it's evident that the opposition was heading for a victory and that explains the level of violence both before the election and in preparation for rigging the poll that the government were willing, the government of Zimbabwe were willing to undertake, that's why I say this is a vital, critical moment because it's the people of Zimbabwe who got rid of the regime and anyone watching or listening to your report, your excellent report, which explains the million % inflation, the wide spread violence can understand why the people of Zimbabwe want rid of him.

CB: Foreign secretary, thank you

ENDS

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