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UN Security Council Considering Tighter Zimbabwe Sanctions


The U.N. Security Council is considering a U.S.-written draft resolution on Zimbabwe that would tighten sanctions against the government of President Robert Mugabe and a dozen individuals. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

The United States is moving ahead with a draft resolution that seeks to freeze the assets and restrict the travel of President Mugabe and 11 individuals in or close to his government who have been linked to recent political violence and the undermining of the election process. The proposed resolution also seeks to expand an arms embargo against the government.

In a copy of the draft resolution obtained by VOA, President Mugabe is first on the list, and is followed by five senior members of his security forces, five members of his government and the head of the Reserve Bank.

Britain has strongly supported the U.S. push for tougher sanctions. Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers:

"I certainly think the council should press ahead with the resolution on sanctions," said Ambassador Sawers. "Yes, I think the situation is very dire there. I think we need to make clear that the views of the Zimbabwean people as expressed in the last election that was reasonably free and fair - that one on 29 March - needs to be respected. And the new government needs to be formed on the basis of the views of the Zimbabwean people as expressed then."

The draft being circulated also demands that Mr. Mugabe's government immediately begin talks with the opposition, and asks the U.N. secretary-general to appoint "an individual of international standing and expertise in human rights" to serve as his special representative and investigate reports of human rights violations.

Western diplomats say candidates on the short-list for that appointment include former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, Ghana's President John Kufuor, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano.

The resolution also expresses support for the on-going efforts by the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to solve the post-election crisis.

The U.N. Security Council will be briefed on the situation in Zimbabwe on Tuesday. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, who is attending the African Union summit in Egypt, and U.N. Envoy Haile Menkerios, who was just in Zimbabwe, would address the council.

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