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Free Zimbabwe elections 'impossible,' says UN

Latest update : 2008-06-24

The UN Security Council has unanimously agreed to declare free elections in Zimbabwe "impossible" within the violent context that has plagued the presidential campaign. (Report: A. Singh)

Hear Zimbabwe's grim inside story from FRANCE 24 correspondents A. Duval Smith and E. Jongwe in their report 'Trapped in a Harare nightmare'.


Pressure is mounting on Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, the day after his condemnation by the U.N. Security Council and calls to postpone the second round of presidential elections.


Zimbabwe replied immediately, saying that the election would continue as planned. Shortly after, opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai declared to the AFP that postponing the second round of presidential elections would be “impossible”.


The 15 U.N. Security Council members unanimously accuse Zimbabwe’s government of blocking the electoral campaign and inflicting violence on the opposition, thus making “free and fair” elections “impossible”.


The U.N. condemnation is the result of a compromise which was obtained after difficult negotiations. The group of countries initially wanted the text to state that, in the case where the second round was cancelled, the results of the first round would stand. However, the group, which notably includes South Africa and China, decided to limit the declaration to a request to postpone the elections.


This stance taken by the U.N., even if it is the first vis-à-vis Zimbabwe, should not stop the government from holding elections at the given date, according to FRANCE 24 correspondent in South Africa Caroline Dumay.


For Philippe Bolopion, FRANCE 24 correspondent at the U.N. in New York, the last hope for putting pressure on Mugabe’s regime lies with South Africa. “Without any doubt, the key lies in South Africa’s position,” he says. “President Thabo Mbeki has been supporting Mugabe’s regime, but the winds are maybe about to change.”


The U.N. Security Council meeting came the day after the opposition chief pulled out of the presidential race, after repeated attacks against its party supporters by security services.


Following a police raid at his party’s headquarters in Harare on Monday, Tsvangirai took refuge in the Dutch embassy. According to Caroline Dumay, this should be an alert for the international community.






Date created : 2008-06-24