The G8 has decided to request the UN Security Council to proceed with sanctions against Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe government. Russia had been the naysayer, but has since reversed its position. (Report: E. Irvine)
The Group of Eight has agreed to seek U.N. sanctions against Zimbabwe after a violent election that extended President Robert Mugabe's 28-year rule, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Tuesday.
The G8, holding a three-day summmit in northern Japan, was due to issue a formal statement on the political crisis in the southern African country after discussing the issue over dinner, Japanese officials said.
"The need and the urgency was indicated for sanctions at the U.N. Security Council," Berlusconi told reporters during a break in the talks. "Given that even Russia decided to go ahead, it seemed to me important to join in, voting unanimously."
The Italian prime minister said on Monday that he favoured a compromise deal between Mugabe and the Zimbabwean opposition rather than sanctions.
As the G8 ratcheted up pressure, Zimbabwe's state media reported on Tuesday that Mugabe's ruling party and the opposition were to resume talks under the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Mugabe was the only candidate in the June 27 run-off election after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out, citing state-sponsored violence against candidates and supporters of his Movement for Democratic Change.
Tsvangirai has said the opposition will not participate in any negotiations until Mugabe's government halts political violence against his supporters and accepts that Tsvangirai won the election in the first round of voting on March 29.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he wanted sanctions to be accompanied by the appointment of a U.N. envoy to try to resolve the crisis.
"It's pretty clear that I want sanctions against the Mugabe regime. I believe that we've got to say that they're illegitimate because of the way they are holding power with an election that is not seen as free or fair to anyone," Brown told reporters.
"Obviously we want to call for an end to violence and we want to get humanitarian aid to victims of the repression and the economic failures of the Mugabe regime," he added.
Seven African leaders invited to the first day of the G8 summit on Monday expressed reservations about sanctions.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is also head of the African Union told President George W. Bush that there was still room for discussions to end the crisis.
An African Union summit issued a resolution last week calling for talks leading to a national unity government in Zimbabwe.
Asked whether Africa took a dim view of a club of rich nations' going on the offensive against Mugabe, Brown said: "I think it's the other way round. Africa now sees that what's happening in Zimbabwe is damaging the credibility of Africa as a whole."
Date created : 2008-07-08