UN warns Africa’s credibility at stake in Zimbabwe

April 17th, 2008 - 12:13 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
New York, April 17 (DPA) African nations called for strengthening the African Union’s (AU) peacekeeping capability during a special UN Security Council session, but were warned by Western governments and the UN leader that Africa’s credibility must be backed by democracy, particularly in Zimbabwe. The Wednesday’s meeting drew a large turnout of high-level African officials.

While UN members were unanimous that the AU should receive the means to carry out its peacekeeping mandate, the unresolved presidential election in Zimbabwe was injected into the debate.

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 colonisation 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,” Brown 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.

“A stolen election would not be an election at all,” Brown said. “The credibility of the democratic process depends on there being a legitimate government.

“So let a single message go out from here that we are and will be vigilant for democratic rights and that we stand solidly behind democracy and human rights for Zimbabwe and we stand ready to support the Zimbabwean people build a better future.”

Brown said his government “will do everything to encourage efforts” to resolve the dispute, including mediation by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the UN.

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 SADC to settle the dispute 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.

“Absent 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.”

“If there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, with international observers,” Ban said. “I urge the leaders of the Southern African Development Community to continue their efforts. The UN stands ready to provide assistance in this regard.”

Ban and high-ranking dignitaries attending the meeting all agreed to work with the AU. But they said democracy must flourish on the continent.

The council planned to adopt a resolution after the long list of speakers was exhausted, calling for strengthening AU capability and allowing it to obtain assistance from non-UN organisation like the European Union (EU).

The council’s African summit was called to strengthen African Union’s peacekeeping capabilities, which Mbeki said have been hampered by the severe lack of logistics and financial resources to carry out peacekeeping mandate on the continent.

The council meeting at UN headquarters also drew the presidents of Somalia, Ivory Coast and Tanzania, Italy’s prime minister and about a dozen foreign ministers and deputy foreign ministers.

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