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Zimbabwe happy with 'victory over racism'

Latest update : 2008-07-13

Zimbabwean officials have welcomed the failure of a UN Security Council resolution that would have imposed sanctions on the country in the wake of presidential elections marred by widespread violence, calling it a victory over racism.

Zimbabwe on Saturday welcomed  the failure of a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution to impose sanctions over its violent presidential elections, calling it a victory over racism and meddling in its affairs.

Russia and China on Friday vetoed the resolution, which would have imposed an arms embargo on the southern African country and financial and travel restrictions on President Robert Mugabe and 13 other officials.

Britain said Russia's veto was "incomprehensible", while Russia said sanctions would have set a dangerous precedent of political interference. Russia, China and regional powerhouse South Africa said the resolution would have hurt dialogue between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition.

"We are very happy with the turn of events and would like to thank those who helped defeat international racism disguised as multilateral action at the U.N.," Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told Reuters.

"The principles of non-interference into the sovereign affairs of a U.N member state have been upheld. What has the U.N got to do with member states' elections?" he said.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March 29 presidential election but failed to get enough votes to avoid a second ballot.

Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off poll held on June 27, citing attacks on his supporters by pro-Mugabe militia. His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Western powers branded Mugabe's landslide re-election a sham.

The MDC is now in preliminary talks with ZANU-PF under the auspices of South African mediators, but has refused to negotiate a power-sharing deal until the government halts the bloodshed. The MDC says 113 of its supporters have been killed.

South Africa's government applauded the U.N. decision on Saturday, in line with an African Union resolution to encourage dialogue between ZANU-PF and the MDC instead.

"It is our considered view that imposing sanctions would indeed have impacted negatively on the current dialogue process among Zimbabwean political parties," it said in a statement.

Millions of people have fled to neighbouring states, including South Africa, to escape an economic meltdown in Zimbabwe, which has led to widespread shortages, 80 percent unemployment and inflation economists estimate to be at least 2 million percent.

China also said the sanctions could undermine the talks and would "complicate" rather than ease the conflict.


British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Saturday: "It'll appear incomprehensible to the people of Zimbabwe that Russia ... should stand in the way of Security Council action."

The Group of Eight rich nations, which includes Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler Britain, the United States as well as Russia, agreed on Tuesday to impose sanctions because of the violence during the widely condemned elections.

Despite the diplomatic setback, Miliband insisted Britain would keep up pressure on Mugabe.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, accused Russia on Friday of a "U-turn" from its position at the G8 summit, and said it raised doubts about its reliability as a partner in the group.

Russia hotly denied any policy reversal.

"We consider such statements unacceptable," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement published on the ministry's website

"Both the U.S. and United Kingdom's ambassadors to the United Nations are, in the best case, not informed about the discussion between G8 leaders in Toyako, or in the worst case are deliberately distorting facts," Nesterenko said.

Earlier, the ministry said the situation in Zimbabwe posed no danger to regional or international peace and security and did not merit sanctions.

"An adoption of such a document by the U.N. Security Council would have created a dangerous precedent, opening the way for interference by the Security Council in internal affairs in connection with certain political events including elections, which is a gross violation of the U.N. Charter," it said.

Date created : 2008-07-12