23 June 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Opposition withdrawal from Zimbabwe election ‘deeply distressing’ development,

Says Secretary-General, expressing strong support for postponement of run-off

The following statement was issued Sunday, 22 June, by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General deeply regrets that, despite the repeated appeals of the international community, the Government of Zimbabwe has failed to put in place the conditions necessary for free and fair run-off elections.  The circumstances that led to the withdrawal of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai today from the presidential elections represents a deeply distressing development that does not bode well for the future of democracy in Zimbabwe.  The campaign of violence and intimidation that has marred this election has done a great disservice to the people of the country and must end immediately.

The Secretary-General has discussed the situation with various leaders, including those of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  He strongly supports the statement of the Chairman of SADC that conditions do not exist for a run-off election to be held at this time and that they should be postponed.  The United Nations is prepared to work urgently with SADC and the African Union to help resolve this political impasse.  His envoy, Assistant Secretary-General Haile Menkerios, remains in the region to assist.

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For information media • not an official record