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Zimbabwe Crisis Poses Challenge To The World

Zimbabwe crisis poses challenge not just to Africa but to the world - Migiro

8 July 2008 - The crisis in Zimbabwe, which has been beset by months of deadly violence and witnessed the recent holding of tarnished elections, not only represents a "moment of truth" for democracy on the continent but also poses a "challenge to the world," Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today.

"When an election is conducted in an atmosphere of fear and violence, its outcome cannot have a legitimacy that is built on the will of the people," she told the Security Council today, as she briefed the 15-member body on the recent African Union Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh. "Consequently, the principle of democracy is at stake."

President Robert Mugabe was sworn in for a sixth term after being declared the winner of the 27 June run-off, in which he was the sole candidate. Violence and intimidation directed towards the opposition forces had led to the withdrawal of Morgan Tsvangirai, the candidate of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Ms. Migiro stated that the "flawed" elections produced illegitimate results, adding that "the seriousness of the situation and its possible consequences has the potential to affect regional peace and security in profound ways."

The polls were held despite calls for a postponement until proper conditions could be put in place. In addition, she pointed out that the lack of national observation "stripped" the elections of a critical measure of transparency and credibility.

"It is of note that the three African observer missions present on the ground issued unequivocal condemnations of the electoral process and its results," said the Deputy Secretary-General.

"This profound crisis of legitimacy," she said, is made worse by the paralysis of state institutions, a civil society that has been intimidated and silenced, a crippled economy and severe shortages of food and basic services.

"It is clear that Zimbabwe will have to go through a political transition bringing together its people around a common project," she stated. "It will also need a process of national healing and reconciliation that should include wide-ranging and participatory national consultations."

Both the ruling ZANU-PF and MDC parties have agreed to dialogue to resolve the current political impasse, and talks are ongoing, under South African mediation. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has backed the AU's call for the establishment of a mechanism on the ground to support the mediation efforts.

"We believe that the only way out of this crisis is for the two sides to agree on a political solution that would pave the way for a democratic transition and economic recovery of the country," she later told journalists. "And we believe strongly that the people of Zimbabwe deserve no less."

Ms. Migiro also stressed to the Council that while the world mobilizes to support a peaceful solution to the crisis, the Government must protect its citizens - who have been subjected to deadly violence and a worsening humanitarian situation since the first round of elections was held on 29 March - and to stop the violence immediately.

In addition, she called for the perpetrators of crimes to be held to account, emphasizing that the victims of the recent violence deserve justice. "The UN stands ready to play its part in supporting such a process," she pledged.

ENDS

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