The United States says it believes it has enough votes to move forward
this week on a Security Council resolution sanctioning Zimbabwe's
president and members of his inner circle. But some other council
members are still expressing doubt over whether sanctions are the
appropriate way to go right now. From United Nation's headquarters in
New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
resolution calls for economic and travel sanctions against Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and 13 of his closest allies, as well as an
expanded arms embargo against the government.
to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday that the Security
Council cannot be indifferent to what is happening in Zimbabwe and that
action is required.
"I believe a clear majority of the council
members who spoke - and the numbers that are necessary for a
resolution to pass - assuming there is no veto, are there in support
of the course that I have outlined. I think they are persuaded by the
argument that we have to act and we have to act in way that
incentivizes cooperation and helps get Zimbabwe out of the current
crisis," he said.
In order to pass, the measure requires at
least nine of the 15 council members to vote in favor and none of the
five veto-wielding members to vote against it.
States has support from at least two of the other five veto-carrying
countries - France and Britain. China, which has strong trade ties with
Zimbabwe, is not likely to risk more bad publicity by vetoing the
measure just weeks ahead of hosting the Olympic Games and could either
vote in favor or abstain.
But Russia has expressed serious reservations
about the resolution. "We need to remind ourselves from
time-to-time that the U.N. Charter does not empower the Security
Council to interfere in internal affairs of states unless the situation
there poses a threat to international peace and security. There is a
serious question in our mind if the situation in Zimbabwe can be
characterized as a threat to international peace and security - at
least to an extent which would warrant passing of a Security Council
resolution under Chapter 7," said Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.
7 of the U.N. Charter authorizes the Security Council to determine
threats to international peace and take military or non-military action
to restore peace and stability.
South Africa has also questioned
whether the situation in Zimbabwe is a threat to international peace
and security. President Thabo Mbeki has been leading regional efforts
to mediate an end to the crisis, but so far those efforts have been
unsuccessful and Mr. Mbeki has come under some international criticism
for his soft approach and close relationship with Mr. Mugabe.
Africa's U.N. Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo said sanctions would only
create more complications. "We understand. We share the frustration of
everybody. But we say don't take measures that are going to complicate
the situation and literally blow the country apart. Take measures that
will urge the parties to go ahead and seek a political solution," he
Several council members have also expressed concern about
setting a precedent in interfering in a country's elections, saying
that is not in the realm of the Security Council's authority.
its meeting Tuesday, the council was briefed privately by U.N. envoy
Haile Menkerios, who recently visited Zimbabwe. In a public session
they heard from U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's deputy, Asha-Rose Migiro, just
back from the African Union summit in Egypt.
Mrs. Migiro called
the elections "seriously flawed" and said the only way out of the
crisis is for the two sides to agree on a political solution that would
pave the way for a democratic transition and economic recovery. She
said the creation of a government of national unity as a way forward
enjoys broad support in the region and that the U.N. secretary-general
strongly supports this recommendation.