President Bush said Tuesday his administration is working on new sanctions against the Robert Mugabe government in Zimbabwe following the joint Russian and Chinese veto of a U.N. sanctions package last week. Senior members of the Harare government already face U.S. financial curbs. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
Mr. Bush says in the wake of the failed sanctions effort at the United Nations, the administration is working on potential new measures to bolster U.S. financial sanctions in place against Zimbabwean leaders for several years.
At his news conference, the President stressed U.S. disappointment over the veto of the draft sanctions resolution last Friday, which came despite Russian support for a strongly worded statement on Zimbabwe at the G8 summit in Japan only days before.
"I think the thing we need to do now is for us to analyze whether or not we can have some more bilateral sanctions on regime leaders. After all, these sanctions were not against the Zimbabwe people, these were against the people in the Mugabe regime that made the decisions it made. The Treasury Department and the State Department are now working on potential U.S. action," said Mr. Bush.
The United States had lined up the necessary nine votes in the Security Council to approve the Zimbabwe sanctions measure, only to see the draft scuttled by the Russian and Chinese veto.
The State Department said those who opposed the Zimbabwe measure were, in a spokesman's words, "on the wrong side of history."
At a State Department economic conference on Africa Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice depicted the Mugabe government as a lingering relic of Africa's political past.
"In the Mugabe regime, we see the page of history that Africa must turn, a leader for independence which inherited a nation full of promise but which has devolved into a tyranny that values nothing but power," said Rice. "It is hard to imagine how Africa will ever reach its full potential until all of its leaders are accountable to, and respectful of, the will of its people. Southern Africa will face perennial instability until the peaceful aspirations of all Zimbabweans are respected and reflected in their government."
The failed U.N. resolution would have made the Zimbabwean leaders subject to an international travel ban and financial freeze.
Officials here say the United States is consulting with allies in Europe and elsewhere about enacting similar measures, aimed at prodding the Mugabe government to halt political violence and accept genuine power-sharing with the opposition after disputed elections.