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British PM: Zimbabwe Government Illegitimate

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told parliament that his government does not recognize the government of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. He also said Britain is working with the international community to increase pressure on Zimbabwe. Tendai Maphosa reports from London.

The increasingly violent repression in Zimbabwe before Friday's run-off presidential elections is sparking harsh condemnation from world leaders.

In London, Prime Minister Gordon Brown told parliament the international community must speak with one voice and take action against President Mugabe's government.

Replying to a suggestion by the leader of the opposition Conservative Party David Cameron to withdraw international recognition of the Zimbabwean government, Mr. Brown said Britain does not recognize the current Zimbabwean government.

"As far as recognition is concerned I made it absolutely clear we do not recognize the regime as legitimate. That has been made clear for many, many weeks and months," he said.

Later on, Foreign Secretary David Miliband explained that while the British government cannot "de-recognize the state of Zimbabwe, Mr. Mugabe's government is another matter."

"We do not believe that a government which has clubbed its way to victory and which has defied the constitution which requires a second round within 30 days of the first round of the election can claim to be the legitimate representative of the Zimbabwean people," he said.

Miliband said the violent campaign by Mr. Mugabe's supporters against the opposition, left opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai with no option but to withdraw from Friday's presidential runoff poll.

"The stage was set for the most rigged election in African history, the failure is not of the opposition but of the government," he said. "Robert Mugabe and his thugs made an election impossible certainly made the notion of a free and fair election farcical. It is clear that the only people with democratic legitimacy are those who won the parliamentary majority on the 29th of March and those who took the most votes in the presidential election and that was of course the opposition."

Mr. Tsvangirai won the most votes in the presidential election on March 29, but the Zimbabwe Election Commission ruled that he did not gain an outright majority. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change also won the parliamentary elections and most local government elections.

During the parliamentary session in London on Monday, Prime Minister Brown repeated the threat of more pressure on the Zimbabwean government. He said the British government had asked the European Union to consider further financial sanctions against the 130 people already on the EU travel ban list. He said the sanctions might also target other individuals and be extended to their families.

"We know the names of those who have been responsible for running the criminal cabal surrounding Mugabe in Zimbabwe and we are determined to force through the sanctions and also to track down the money in their accounts in other countries," Brown said.

Dozens of opposition supporters are reported to have been killed in election-related violence in recent weeks. After announcing he would not contest Friday's run-off because of the violence, Mr. Tsvangirai sought refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare, fearing for his safety.