UN warns Africa’s credibility at stake in Zimbabwe

April 17th, 2008 - 4:14 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
New York, April 17 (DPA) African nations have called for strengthening the African Union’s (AU) peacekeeping capability during a special UN Security Council session, but were warned the continent’s credibility must be backed by democracy, particularly in Zimbabwe. While UN members were unanimous that the AU should receive the means to carry out its peacekeeping mandate, the unresolved presidential election in Zimbabwe came up during the debate Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hit hard by warning the world not to let Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe steal the presidential elections. Mugabe led the revolution that in 1980 ended British colonization of the country formerly known as Rhodesia.

“No one thinks, having seen the result at the polling stations, that President Mugabe has won this election,” he told the UN Security Council’s Africa summit convened to debate ways to strengthen UN-AU working relationship.

Mbeki is the object of rising international criticism of his refusal over the past years to take a stand on Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic and human rights situation and the role played by Mugabe.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the pre-elections were marked by “irregularities” and voters “overwhelmingly voted for change,” echoing what Brown said.

Khalilzad urged the Mugabe government to end violence, intimidation, respect human rights and allow the electoral process to continue unfettered.

He said the UN should join the AU in supporting efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to settle the dispute in Zimbabwe.

A human rights internet-based advocacy group known as Avaaz - which means voice - said it flew early Wednesday a huge protest banner expressing support for democracy in Zimbabwe.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was concerned about the “uncertainty” created by the lack of transparency as the electoral commission in Harare has so far refused to release results of the vote last month.

“Absence of a transparent solution to this impasse, the situation could deteriorate further with serious implications for the people of Zimbabwe,” he said. “The credibility of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake here.”

Conflicts in the African continent have taken up 60 percent of UN peacekeeping operations. A joint UN-AU peace mission is being deployed in Sudan’s Darfur region, which when completed will have up to 30,000 military and civilian personnel. Sudan already has 10,000 peacekeepers monitoring the peace agreement between Khartoum and southern Sudan.

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