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Russia, China veto UN sanctions on Zimbabwe regime

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Russia, China veto UN sanctions on Zimbabwe regime

AFP Photo: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses his supporters at Harare airport on July 4, 2008, after…

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS – Russia and China vetoed U.S.-proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe’s leaders Friday, the global community’s latest attempt to take action against an authoritarian regime widely criticized for a violent and one-sided presidential election.

Western powers mustered nine votes, the minimum needed to gain approval in the 15-nation council. But the resolution pushed by the Bush administration failed because of the action by two of the five veto-wielding permanent members.

The other three nations with veto power — the U.S., Britain and France — argued that sanctions were needed to respond to the government-backed violence and intimidation against opponents of President Robert Mugabe during Zimbabwe‘s first round presidential vote in March and runoff in late June.

Mugabe’s government has denied responsibility for the bloodshed surrounding the vote, which he won in the runoff after his sole rival — opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai — dropped out because of attacks on his followers. Tsvangirai’s party reported Friday that at least 113 of its members were killed in political violence since March.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad harshly criticized the vetoes, saying “China and Russia have stood with Mugabe against the people of Zimbabwe.”

The action put an end for now to efforts to apply more international pressure on Mugabe’s regime and force it to share power with Tsvangirai.

It follows a recent summit where African Union leaders adopted a resolution calling for dialogue in Zimbabwe, but did not directly criticize Mugabe or the runoff vote. The AU leaders said they were “deeply concerned” about the situation but their only promised action was be to support “the will” for a unity government.

The proposal would have imposed an arms embargo on the southern African nation and an international travel ban and a freeze on the personal assets of Mugabe and 13 other officials. It also called for a U.N. special envoy for Zimbabwe to be appointed.

But Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said sanctions would have taken the U.N. beyond its mandate in trying to punish political disputes by “artificially elevating them to the level of a threat” to international peace and security.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya, whose nation is one of Zimbabwe’s major trading partners, expressed similar sentiments, saying Zimbabwe should be allowed to resolve the political crisis on its own.

“The development of the situation in Zimbabwe until now has not exceeded the context of domestic affairs,” Wang said, adding that sanctions would “interfere with the negotiation process.”

Mugabe and Tsvangirai both say they are willing to share power, if only during a transition to new elections, but differ on who should lead the government. The long-ruling ZANU-PF party wants Mugabe at the head, something the opposition and Mugabe’s critics in the West have rejected.

Mugabe, in power since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980, has been accused of holding onto power through fraud and intimidation and trampling on people’s rights. Western powers and rights groups also accuse him of overseeing an economic slide blamed on the collapse of the key agriculture sector, after often violence seizures of farmland from whites. Mugabe has claimed his actions are aimed at benefitting poor blacks.

In addition to dodging sanctions, Mugabe “will be coming” to the U.N. General Assembly in September, said Zimbabwean U.N. Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku.

Supporters of the resolution had expected Russia and China to abstain because of the depth of the crisis in Zimbabwe.

“They read the situation wrong,” Chidyausiku said. “It’s the arrogance of the Americans. They think they can rule the world. They can’t.”

Khalilzad said the vote called into question Russia’s reliability as a Group of Eight partner because he said it had indicated earlier that it would abstain.

“The U-turn in the Russian position is particularly surprising and disturbing. Only a few days ago the Russian Federation was supportive of a G8 statement which said, and I quote, ‘We express grave concern about the situation in Zimbabwe,” he said.

In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the vetoed measure “will appear incomprehensible to the people of Zimbabwe.”

South Africa, a Zimbabwe neighbor that holds one of the council’s non-permanent seats, led the opposition to the sanctions, arguing that Zimbabwe is not a threat to international peace.

Voting for the resolution were Belgium, Britain, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, France, Italy, Panama and the United States. Voting against were China, Libya, Russia, South Africa and Vietnam. Indonesia abstained.

Washington is considering tougher unilateral sanctions by expanding the list of about 130 officials now banned from visiting the U.S. and hit with financial penalties.

The European Union and Australia have imposed their own limited sanctions on Zimbabwe’s government, and the EU likewise is studying whether to add to travel bans and an asset freeze already in place on Mugabe, his Cabinet ministers and top ruling party officials.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects spelling of Mugabe in graf 5, minor editing throughout)


BBC News

Russia, China veto UN sanctions on Zimbabwe

AFP –
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – China and Russia vetoed targeted UN sanctions on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe over his disputed re-election, prompting an angry reaction from the United States which cast doubt on Moscow’s reliability as a G8 partner.

Zimbabwe: Russia, China Veto UN Sanctions on Mugabe AllAfrica.com

Russia, China veto UN sanctions on Zimbabwe regime The Associated Press

Financial Times

BBC News

Times Online

PRESS TV

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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 12, 2008 at 3:08 am

Posted in Burma's Geopolitics

Tagged with , ,

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