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Brown, Zuma call for Zimbabwe vote results

Latest update : 2008-04-24

British prime minister Gordon Brown and South African ruling party leader Jacob Zuma together called for an end to Zimbabwe's post-election stalemate, urging the release of the March 29 vote as the pair held talks in London. (Report: C. Westerheide)

HARARE, April 23 (Reuters) - Britain and South Africa’s ruling party leader Jacob Zuma made a united call on Wednesday for an end to the election stalemate in Zimbabwe, stepping up pressure on President Robert Mugabe to release results.


Zuma, the most outspoken African leader on Zimbabwe, held talks in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, one of Mugabe’s harshest critics.


“We resolved on the crisis in Zimbabwe to redouble our efforts to secure early publication of election results,” they said in a joint statement after their meeting.


“We call for an end to any violence and intimidation and stress the importance of respect for the sovereign people of Zimbabwe and the choice they have made at the ballot box.”


No results have been announced from the March 29 presidential vote, while the outcome of a parliamentary poll is also in doubt because of partial recounts.


Officials said the first of 23 recounts had confirmed victory in one constituency for the ruling ZANU-PF party, which lost control of parliament for the first time in the election.  The recounts could overturn the MDC parliamentary victory.


Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he won the presidential election outright and accused Mugabe of delaying results to rig victory.


Zuma’s backing for Brown’s position over the Zimbabwe election could anger Mugabe, who accuses former colonial master Britain of plotting to oust him.


Britain called for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe while analysts dismissed as unlikely a proposal that Mugabe should lead a unity government until new polls.


The United States has led international calls for Africa to do more to end the Zimbabwe crisis. Washington’s chief Africa diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer, arrived in South Africa on a previously-arranged regional tour.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel added to growing pressure on Mugabe, who faces the toughest challenge to his 28-year rule.


“I think the situation for the people (in Zimbabwe) is unacceptable. We want a fair election result,” she said at a news conference with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.







Zuma, who has distanced himself from the “quiet diplomacy” of South African President Thabo Mbeki over Zimbabwe, has called on African leaders to take action to unlock the stalemate.


Zimbabwe’s neighbours, previously passive despite the collapse of the country’s economy, this week took a harder line towards Mugabe, refusing to allow a Chinese ship to unload arms headed for the landlocked country.


Pro-government commentator Obediah Mukura Mazombwe add to  uncertainty by suggesting Mugabe should lead a transitional government to end the deadlock while new polls were organised.


He said the solution should be mediated by Zimbabwe’s neighbours. But analysts said Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party were pressing ahead with plans for a runoff vote against Tsvangirai.


Mazombwe holds no position in the ruling ZANU-PF party and his comments may not have official backing, analysts say.


If adopted, Mazombwe’s idea would delay even longer any outcome from an electoral process that Zimbabweans hoped would end their misery under an economic collapse that has saddled them with the world’s highest inflation rate -- 165,000 percent.


“We agreed on the importance of humanitarian aid and the need for international cooperation to support the recovery of the economy of Zimbabwe once all election processes have been fulfilled,” said the statement by Zuma and Brown.


Tsvangirai pressed ahead on a relentless regional drive seeking help from leaders to push aside Mugabe.


On a visit to Mozambique on Wednesday, he rejected the idea of national unity government but said there were other options.


“It doesn’t arise at the moment, the government of national unity does not arise because we won outright,” he told a news conference after meeting Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.


“”We want an inclusive government that takes into consideration all players that can give confidence to everyone because we are in transitional period.”


The government has clearly indicated it expects a runoff—necessary if neither candidate wins an absolute majority.


The MDC, human rights groups and Western powers accuse ZANU-PF of launching a campaign of post-election violence.  Tsvangirai says 10-15 MDC supporters have already been killed.


Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba called for a U.N. arms embargo against Zimbabwe. 

Date created : 2008-04-24