U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on Zimbabwe's government
to postpone Friday's planned run-off presidential election, saying a
vote held in the current conditions would lack all legitimacy. From
United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has
Mr. Ban called on President Robert Mugabe to halt the
violence and intimidation that has gripped the country in the wake of
the contested March 29 presidential elections.
secretary-general said conditions do not exist right now for a free and
fair vote, and urged the authorities to postpone Friday's planned
run-off election, saying it would only deepen divisions within the
"There has been too much violence; too much intimidation," he said. "A vote held in these conditions would lack all legitimacy."
Sunday, President Mugabe's political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai,
announced his withdrawal from this week's run-off election, saying
violence against his supporters made the poll impossible. He has since
sought refuge at the Dutch embassy in Harare.
Ban says he has spoken with a number of African leaders who also agree
that the poll must be postponed. He urged regional organizations to use
their leadership to bring peace and stability to Zimbabwe, saying the
situation has broad, regional implications.
"The situation in
Zimbabwe represents the single greatest challenge to regional stability
in southern Africa today," he said. "The region's economic and
political security are at stake, as is the very institution of
elections in Africa."
The U.N. Security Council is meeting late
Monday to discuss Zimbabwe, and will be briefed by the U.N. Chief of
The council has been divided internally on
whether to get involved in the post-election crisis. Most notably,
South Africa - which is helping to mediate the situation - has wanted
to keep the issue out of the council, arguing that elections are an
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert,
said he expects the council meeting to be "tense", but that members
realize Zimbabwe's crisis is no longer an internal matter, but one that
threatens regional peace and stability.
"It is obvious that
nobody believes it is an internal problem of Zimbabwe anymore - even
the people who are most reluctant, let's say, for the Security Council
to deal with the situation - recognize that the situation now is out of
hand," he said.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who holds
the rotating presidency of the council this month, said ahead of the
meeting that he hopes the council will agree to a strong statement
assigning responsibility for the crisis to the Zimbabwean government.