U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for stronger
international action against political repression in Zimbabwe during a
meeting at the U.N. Thursday. Zimbabwe has seen increasing violence
and the intimidation of opponents of President Robert Mugabe ahead of
next week's runoff presidential election. From United Nation's
headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
Rice told an informal meeting of the 15 members of the Security
Council, African nations and some non-governmental groups that the
political instability and economic collapse created by the Zimbabwean
government's actions are destabilizing the entire region. She accused
the Mugabe government of orchestrating a "campaign of violence and
harassment" designed to prevent the country's opposition from
conducting its peaceful election campaign.
"Clearly, we have reached a point where broader, stronger international effort is needed," said Rice.
urged the Security Council to take up the matter, and she welcomed the
efforts so far of the African Union and the Southern African
Development Community [SADC] as well as the 14 former African
presidents and dignitaries who have called for Zimbabwean authorities
to allow for a free and fair runoff election on June 27.
urge the SADC to increase its pressure on President Mugabe and his
followers to stop this violence immediately, to permit the resumption
of humanitarian activities, to allow the election to proceed freely and
fairly and to peacefully abide by the results," said Rice.
Mugabe has warned that he is prepared to go to war to prevent the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate from
governing if he succeeds in the runoff election.
roundtable discussion was co-chaired by Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister
Djibril Bassolé, who called on the international community to closely
monitor the situation. He said wider involvement is necessary to
prevent the violence from escalating and throwing the country into an
even more serious humanitarian crisis that could reach beyond its
Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party says about 70 of its
supporters have been killed, and its leader and presidential candidate,
Morgan Tsvangirai, has been detained at least five times this month as
he tried to campaign for next Friday's vote.
Secretary Rice said
the mood among countries attending the meeting was one of
"extraordinary concern" and a desire to have President Mugabe hear that
there is great international concern about what he is doing to his
The Security Council is expected to have a formal briefing on Zimbabwe next week.