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Security Council Fails to Pressure Zimbabwe Govt

U.N. Security Council Fails to Pressure Zimbabwe's Government; Disappointed U.S. Officials Pledge To Continue Efforts To Stem Violence

Washington -- Expressing disappointment at the failure of the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning and sanctioning Zimbabwe's leaders, U.S. officials said they will continue to seek ways to pressure President Robert Mugabe's government to end the violence against its political opposition and engage it in serious negotiations.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said July 14 that the Bush administration is talking to others in the international community about the next steps to take on Zimbabwe.

"[W]e're going to continue to find ways working with our partners in the international system to put pressure on the Zimbabwean government in such a way that the people of Zimbabwe can start to move forward, start to rebuild their democracy, [and] start to rebuild their country," McCormack said.

"Clearly we're disappointed in the outcome of the vote," he said, adding Security Council members had "a very clear choice" and that those who had voted against the resolution on July 11 "find themselves on the wrong side of history."

The resolution sought to address political violence and intimidation perpetrated against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and its supporters who won the country's March parliamentary elections but pulled out of a presidential runoff vote in June in the face of continued harassment and killings by supporters of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) headed by Mugabe.

The measure, which would have instituted an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and a travel ban upon President Mugabe and 13 of his close allies, was supported by the majority of the Security Council members but was vetoed by two of its permanent members, Russia and China.

The U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, said July 11 that Russia and China "have stood with Mugabe against the people of Zimbabwe" by blocking the resolution "for reasons that we think are not borne out by the facts on the ground."

SURPRISING AND DISTURBING"

In a statement after the vote, Khalilzad said Russia's veto was "particularly surprising and disturbing" because the country had joined its partners in the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialized nations in a statement that strongly condemned the Mugabe regime and promised further steps, including financial measures against those responsible for the political violence. (See "G8 Leaders Statement on Zimbabwe.")

"The Russian performance here today raises questions about its reliability as a G8 partner," he said.

Khalilzad said there should be "no doubt that what is happening in Zimbabwe affects peace and security in the region," citing recent African Union statements and the fact that three African members of the council -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso -- had co-sponsored the resolution.

He also said that despite the claims of South Africa, "no serious, substantive negotiations" are under way between the Mugabe regime and the MDC, and the resolution "would have empowered regional and international mediators by giving Mr. Mugabe an incentive to negotiate seriously."

Speaking to reporters July 11 after the Security Council vote, Khalilzad said the performance of South Africa, which also voted against the resolution, was "particularly disturbing" given the role international sanctions played in the 1980s to pressure its government to end apartheid policies against the South African people. "[W]ithout pressure Mugabe was not going to be incentivized to cooperate in ways that are needed," he said.

The South African government, led by President Thabo Mbeki, is protecting a "horrible regime in Zimbabwe," Khalilzad said, adding Mbeki's own mediation effort between ZANU-PF and the MDC "so far has been a failure," and needs to be complemented by international efforts such as the appointment of a special representative of the U.N. secretary-general.

Khalilzad said other South Africans, including African National Congress President Jacob Zuma, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and trade unions, "have spoken the conscience of this country on this issue," but Mbeki is "out of touch with the trends inside his own country."

Khalilzad said he hopes the people of Zimbabwe "take heart from the fact that a clear majority of the members of the Council stood with them," adding "we will continue to do so."

***

TRANSCRIPT OF AMBASSADOR KHALILZAD'S REMARKS ON RESOLUTION AGAINST ZIMBABWE

USUN PRESS RELEASE
July 11, 2008

Russia, China block U.N. draft resolution condemning Mugabe's regime

(begin transcript)

AS DELIVERED

Statement by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Permanent Representative, on Zimbabwe, in the Security Council, July 11, 2008

The United States is disappointed that the Russian Federation and China today prevented the Security Council from adopting a strong resolution condemning and sanctioning the violent regime of Robert Mugabe.

China and Russia have stood with Mugabe against the people of Zimbabwe. More than a majority of the Security Council members stood with the people of Zimbabwe by demanding that Mugabe put an end, an immediate end, to the violence and the start of serious negotiations with the opposition.

The draft resolution would have supported the courageous efforts of the Zimbabwean people to change their lives peacefully through democratic elections.

Unfortunately, the Russian Federation and China blocked the adoption of this draft resolution for reasons that we think are not borne out by the facts on the ground.

The U-turn in the Russian position is particularly surprising and disturbing. Only a few days ago the Russian Federation was supportive of a G8 statement which said, and I quote, "We express grave concern about the situation in Zimbabwe. 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. We recommend the appointment of a special envoy of the UN Secretary-General to report on the political, humanitarian, human rights and security situation and to support regional efforts to take forward mediation between political parties. We will take further steps, inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for violence."

The Russian performance here today raises questions about its reliability as a G8 partner.

There should be no doubt that what is happening in Zimbabwe affects peace and security in the region. UN Deputy Secretary-General Migiro called the situation in Zimbabwe the "single greatest challenge to regional stability in southern Africa." The African Union adopted a resolution expressing its concern about the "urgent need to prevent further worsening of the situation and with a view to avoid the spread of conflict with the consequential negative impact on the country and the sub-region."

Three African states–Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso--co-sponsored this resolution. In the case of Liberia and Sierra Leone, whose democratic governments emerged, after years of conflict, with the help of the UN and the Security Council, they joined in co-sponsoring the draft resolution as an indication of their concern about the impact of the situation in Zimbabwe on the region. We applaud their courage in standing up for the people of Zimbabwe.

Further, there are no serious, substantive negotiations underway between the Mugabe regime and the opposition contrary to what the representative of South Africa reported. The Mugabe regime and the representatives from the opposition MDC had a preliminary meeting in South Africa the other day, in which the MDC laid down conditions for substantive negotiations, but they are not yet underway.

Finally, this draft resolution would have supported regional and international mediation efforts, not to undercut them. This draft resolution would have empowered regional and international mediators by giving Mr. Mugabe an incentive to negotiate seriously.

The surest way for Mr. Mugabe to have avoided this sanctions resolution would have been to have acted immediately to end the violence and start serious negotiations with the opposition. He had a week since our introduction of this draft resolution to act. Unfortunately, during this time, the violence continued, as did Mr. Mugabe's bellicose rhetoric. For example, Mugabe spokesman George Charamba said of those drawing attention to the flaws in the post-March 29 electoral process, "They can go hang. They can go and hang a thousand times." This is an irresponsible response and shows the regime's contempt for the people of Zimbabwe as well as for the international community.

Although this draft resolution was not adopted, we will continue to work with all the Security Council delegations to monitor closely the situation in Zimbabwe and to urge the Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative to support the negotiating process between the political parties in Zimbabwe and to report to the Council on the political, humanitarian, human rights and security situation in Zimbabwe.

Thank you Mr. President.

(end transcript)

ENDS

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