'Financial measures' sought against Zimbabwe

Avoiding use of the word "sanctions", the G8 released Tuesday a special statement to take further steps against Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, labelled by British PM Gordon Brown as "illegitimate". (Report: E.Irvine)



TOYAKO - The Group of Eight agreed on Tuesday to impose targeted sanctions against leading Zimbabwean officials after a violent election last month that extended President Robert Mugabe's 28-year rule.


The grouping of major industrial powers said it was deeply concerned by events in the impoverished southern African country and did not accept the legitimacy of any Zimbabwean government that failed to reflect the people's will.


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.


"We will take further steps, inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for violence," the G8 leaders said in a formal statement after discussing the issue over dinner.


The statement did not give further details as to what the steps might be. The United States said last Thursday it expected the U.N. Security Council to vote this week on sanctions against Mugabe and top aides.


The G8 leaders, urging Harare to work with the opposition to peacefully resolve the crisis, also recommended U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special envoy for Zimbabwe.


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.


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.


"We deplore the fact that the Zimbabwean authorities pressed ahead with the presidential election despite the absence of appropriate conditions for free and fair voting as a result of their systematic violence, obstruction and intimidation," the G8 leaders said.


"We do not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people."


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the G8 statement showed the international community was united against President Robert Mugabe's government.


"This is the strongest possible statement. It shows the unanimity of the whole international community, reflecting the outrage people feel about the violence and the intimidation and the illegitimate holding of power by the Mugabe government," Brown told reporters.


The G8, which had already made clear it considered the election to be invalid, on Monday warned African leaders that trade and investment flows to the continent would suffer unless they dealt with Mugabe.


The seven African leaders expressed reservations about sanctions. Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, who said on Monday the Africans had told him they feared sanctions could cause a civil war, came out in support of the punishment after the G8 leaders' discussion.


"The others' views let me see how it's necessary today to declare ... the illegitimacy of Mugabe's position and therefore to indicate the urgency of sanctions at the U.N. Security Council," he told reporters on Tuesday.


An African Union summit issued a resolution last week calling for talks leading to a national unity government in Zimbabwe.

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