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British PM Calls for Arms Embargo on Zimbabwe


The British government said Wednesday it intends to push for an international arms embargo against Zimbabwe. Prime Minister Gordon Brown also reiterated that the delay in announcing last month's presidential election results is "unacceptable." Tendai Maphosa has more for VOA from London.

Speaking in parliament, the prime minister said that Britain would call for an embargo on arms sales to Zimbabwe.

"Because of what has happened in South Africa, where there is an arms shipment trying to get to Zimbabwe, we will promote proposals for an embargo on all arms to Zimbabwe," he said.

The arms shipment Mr. Brown referred to is on the Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, and was destined for Zimbabwe. Offloading the ship in Durban was blocked by a court decision sought by activists, which prohibited the transportation of the weapons through South Africa to the Zimbabwean border.

The ship's cargo papers show it is carrying three million rounds of assault rifle ammunition, 3,000 mortar rounds and 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades.

Mr. Brown repeated his attack on the Zimbabwean government for failing to disclose the presidential election results.

"A message should be sent from the whole of the United Kingdom that what is happening in Zimbabwe, failing to announce an election result, trying to rig an election result, is completely unacceptable and I call on the whole world to express its view that this is completely unacceptable to the whole international community," he said.

Amnesty International also added its voice for an embargo on arms sales to Zimbabwe. In a statement Wednesday, the rights body called for a halt of all shipments of small arms, light weapons and ammunition ordered from China by the Zimbabwe government as there is a real risk they may be used against political opponents.

The organization has documented serious human rights violations against opposition supporters after the elections held on March 29. These abuses allegedly include assaults and torture by soldiers, police, so-called "war veterans" and supporters of the ruling party, ZANU-PF.

Zimbabwean authorities have repeatedly denied responsibility for the violence.

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