|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5919th Meeting (Night)
URGING DELAY OF ZIMBABWE’S RUN-OFF ELECTION, UN POLITICAL AFFAIRS CHIEF SAYS
‘WINNER-TAKES-ALL’ APPROACH WILL WIDEN DIVISIONS, PRODUCE DISCREDITED RESULT
Addressing Security Council, B. Lynn Pascoe Says Zimbabwe Violence ‘Staggering’;
Warns Only Credible Process Can Deliver Legitimate Outcome in Eyes of Zimbabweans
As conditions for a free and fair presidential run-off election did not exist in Zimbabwe at present, the election should be postponed, the Organization’s top political affairs official told the Security Council this evening.
Briefing the Council on the situation in Zimbabwe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said that the Government must ensure that conditions were in place for a credible process to take place. Given the gravity of the situation, the parties should immediately engage in talks to establish a period, during which such conditions could be created. He reiterated United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s offer of his good offices, in support of such efforts, as appropriate. The United Nations was prepared to work urgently with the African Union to help resolve the political impasse. His envoy, Assistant Secretary-General Haile Menkerios, remained in the region to assist.
Describing the latest events, he said that four days before the scheduled presidential run-off election of 27 June, the situation had deteriorated to alarming levels and had reached a new degree of gravity. “While we have been working to improve conditions, we also do not believe conditions exist for a free and fair run-off election. We strongly discourage the authorities from going ahead with the run-off under these circumstances as this would only increase divisions and produce a discredited result,” he said.
He said that, according to the Secretary-General, the situation in Zimbabwe constituted, not only a major challenge to regional stability in Southern Africa, but also created a dangerous precedent for the political future of the continent. Mr. Ban had dispatched Assistant Secretary-General Menkerios to Zimbabwe with the mandate to discuss ways to improve the political climate ahead of the run-off elections.
Mr. Menkerios had been granted road access by the Zimbabwean authorities and had met with a wide spectrum of actors and stakeholders. His message to the Government had been that it had the primary responsibility to ensure the security of all citizens; that conditions for free and fair elections must exist, in particular, that the violence and intimidation must stop and that dialogue was critical to ending the crisis. He had also pressed for the resumption of humanitarian activities.
Based on his observations, he said he had informed the Secretary-General that conditions did not exist for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and that no outcome of an election conducted under those conditions could be considered credible.
Zimbabwe had experienced a “staggering degree of violence”, he continued. There was ample evidence that it had been perpetrated by a combination of State agencies, war veterans and youth militias. While there had been some retaliatory evidence of MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) activists on supporters of ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front), it had been of a much lesser degree. Initial reports by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Pan-African Parliament observer missions had provided first-hand accounts of politically-motivated violence.
Further, he said, the distinction between the ruling party, Government and State institutions was blurred. The civil service, the judiciary, and, in particular, the security institutions such as the army, did not play a neutral role. The chiefs of security forces in Zimbabwe on many occasions had declared that they would not “allow puppets to take charge” or “salute sell-outs and agents of the West”. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe himself had declared that he was “prepared to go to war” if he lost, and that the MDC would never be allowed to rule the country. State institutions were partisan and not neutral effective instruments of citizenship and of the rule of law.
Yesterday, he noted, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had announced he was withdrawing from the Friday run-off election, arguing that there was evidence of widespread State-sponsored violence; that he had been unable to campaign; that MDC had lost confidence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission since that institution had been staffed with war veterans and youth militia; and that political leadership of ZANU-PF and war veterans had made public statements that they would defy an MDC victory. MDC had called on SADC, the African Union and the United Nations to intervene urgently to restore the rule of law, peace and conditions for a free and fair election. Mr. Tsvangirai further advised that MDC would make public its next move on 25 June. In the interim, he had indicated that MDC remained open to participating in any future elections, under conditions consistent with SADC norms and principles governing democratic elections.
The voice of African leaders had grown stronger, and the region was mobilizing to solve the crisis, he said. Mandated by SADC to mediate the crisis, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa had declared that the political leadership of Zimbabwe should get together and find a solution to the challenges facing the country. SADC Chair and Zambian President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa had called for the postponement of elections. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Chair of SADC Organ of Politics, Defence and Security, had also urged President Mugabe to observe a spirit of tolerance and respect for differences, and to cease all forms of intimidation and political violence. Furthermore, a group of 40 African former Heads of State and prominent personalities had signed an open letter calling for an end to the current political violence in Zimbabwe, saying that it was vital that appropriate conditions were created for the run-off elections.
The Secretary-General encouraged and supported continuing efforts by SADC to facilitate a solution in Zimbabwe and the leading role South Africa had played in that effort, Mr. Pascoe said, adding that the Secretary-General welcomed the decision by SADC to hold emergency meetings on Zimbabwe and gave his support to SADC and African Union measures to address that pressing situation. It was now time to redouble efforts to facilitate the immediate start of a period for establishing conditions necessary for free and fair elections and help restore security and the rule of law in the country.
“We believe it is clear that a ‘winner-takes-all’ approach will not bring peace and stability to the country,” he said. All forms of violence, intimidation and obstruction must stop. He reiterated the Secretary-General’s call on both parties to resume talks immediately to seek a peaceful solution for the good of all Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe must have a credible process in place so that the run-off election could produce a legitimate outcome in the eyes of the people of the country and the world community.
The meeting was called to order at 6:15 p.m. and adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record