The United States said Monday the government of Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe cannot be considered legitimate in the absence of a
presidential runoff election. In the wake of opposition candidate
Morgan Tsvangirai's forced departure from the campaign, the Bush
administration is pushing for action in the U.N. Security Council.
VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
Department is expressing understanding for Mr. Tsvangirai's decision to
quit the race, and deep disappointment that the Mugabe government made
a free and fair runoff election impossible with its violent campaign
against the opposition.
In a written statement, Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice said it is abundantly clear that President
Mugabe is determined to thwart the will of the Zimbabwean people, and
that the United States condemns the violence in the strongest terms.
said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and Mr. Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party must work together on behalf of the Zimbabwean people and
said the Mugabe government "cannot be considered legitimate" in the
absence of a runoff.
The Secretary further said Mr. Mugabe and
his government have forsaken the most basic tenet of government, the
protection of its people, and must be held accountable by the
In a talk with reporters, State
Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said that Rice's remark about the
legitimacy of the Mugabe government is a statement of the obvious,
given the situation.
"Can we stop with the legal niceties here?
This is a government that has no legitimacy in the eyes of its people,
in the eyes of the United States or in the eyes of the international
community absent a free and fair election," he said. "That's what it
means. And whether there will be policy consequences to that or not
depends on the action that this government takes in light of our
statements, in light of actions in the Security Council, and in light
of the discussions they're having with other regional leaders."
said in addition to measures taken by the international community, the
United States could augment sanctions it already has in place against
Mr. Mugabe and key associates.
But he ruled out the withdrawal
of U.S. Ambassador James McGee from Harare, saying his presence is
needed to gauge the situation on the ground and maintain contact with
the besieged opposition.
Casey said the United States had no
role in Mr. Tsvangirai's decision to pull out of the runoff but is
supportive of it under the current conditions, which he said are making
Zimbabwe's president an international political pariah.
can say is it must be a very dark and scary place where Robert Mugabe
is right now politically, because it's abundantly clear by actions of
his government that neither he nor any of those supporting him believe
that he would win a free in a and fair election, if they are re
resorting to this kind of violence as a response," he said.
did not specify what steps the Bush administration wants the world
community to take, but that its initial expectation is for a so-called
president's statement from the U.N. Security Council condemning the
South Africa among others had resisted
bringing the issue to the Security Council but Casey said the latest
developments have brought a "change in tone" by regional leaders once
protective of Mr. Mugabe.