U.S. President George Bush is urging a strong international stand against the government of Zimbabwe, saying the presidential runoff election scheduled for later this week amounts to a sham. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson has details.
President Bush says the people of Zimbabwe deserve to have their votes count.
"Friday's elections appear to be a sham," he said.
Mr. Bush says it is impossible to conduct a free election when candidates are not allowed to campaign freely and their supporters face violence and intimidation.
"Yet the Mugabe government is intimidating the people on the ground in Zimbabwe," he added. "And this is an incredibly sad development."
They were his first public comments on Zimbabwe since opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dropped out of the race, citing violence against his followers at the direction of President Robert Mugabe.
President Bush said the latest developments prove the election process in Zimbabwe is not free, fair, or legitimate.
"People there want to express themselves at the ballot box," he said. "Yet the Mugabe government has refused to allow them to do so. This is not just and it is wrong."
The tough talk came during a White House meeting attended by representatives of the U.N. Security Council.
President Bush said nations must join together to send a strong message to the Mugabe government. He praised the Council statement approved earlier this week which unanimously condemned Zimbabwe's government for a campaign of election-related violence.
The president then called on the African Union to continue to keep a spotlight on the situation in Zimbabwe during its upcoming meeting. He urged AU members to remind the world that the presidential election in Zimbabwe is neither free nor fair.