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A-N-C Endorses Mugabe's Re-Election - 2002-03-15

South Africa's ruling party has endorsed the disputed re-election of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who this week won a vote Western countries are describing as fraudulent.

A statement on the web site of the African National Congress (Friday) says the will of the Zimbabwean people prevailed in the election, in spite of what the party calls "clear flaws in the electoral process."

South African President Thabo Mbeki has not yet officially commented on reports his government is trying to pressure Mr. Mugabe into forming a government of national unity. The reports, in several South African and international newspapers, say Mr. Mugabe has already rejected the idea.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mugabe's government (Friday) enacted a new, restrictive media law. Under the law, local journalists must seek accreditation from a state-appointed commission, while foreign correspondents will now be barred from working permanently in Zimbabwe.

Britain has refused to recognize the election results, while three Western countries have suspended aid to Zimbabwe. Western observers and local human rights watchdog groups say the government harassed opposition activists and slowed down the voting process in opposition-friendly precincts.