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Page last updated at 00:23 GMT, Saturday, 12 July 2008 01:23 UK

Zimbabwe sanctions vetoed at UN

Robert Mugabe
The resolution called for sanctions on Mugabe and 13 other officials

A draft resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and a number of his key allies has been vetoed at the UN Security Council.

China and Russia rejected the proposed measures, which included a freeze on financial assets and a travel ban.

There has been growing international criticism of Zimbabwe since the re-election of Mr Mugabe in a run-off boycotted by the opposition.

The UK foreign secretary called China and Russia's stance "incomprehensible".

David Miliband said Russia used its veto despite a promise by President Dmitry Medvedev to support the resolution, when it was discussed at this week's summit of the G-8 group of industrialised nations.

Britain's ambassador to the UN says the Security Council has failed Zimbabwe's people

The US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Russia's veto raised "questions about its reliability as a G8 partner".

A BBC correspondent at the UN says the failure of the resolution is a major blow for the United States and Britain.

The UK ambassador said after the vote that the UN had failed in its duty.

"The people of Zimbabwe need to be given hope that there is an end in sight to their suffering," said Sir John Sawers. "The Security Council today has failed to offer them that hope."

However, Russia's ambassador Vitaly Churkin said sanctions would have taken the UN beyond its mandate because Zimbabwe did not threaten international stability.

Zimbabwe's ambassador told the BBC the vote showed that "reason has prevailed".

"People have been able to see the machinations of Washington, London and France," said Boniface Chidyausiku.

South Africa voted against the sanctions resolution. It has promoted a power-sharing arrangement between President Mugabe and the opposition.

Envoy call

The resolution would have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and financial and travel restrictions on President Mugabe and 13 of his top officials.

UN SANCTIONS VOTE
FOR
Belgium
Burkina Faso
Costa Rica
Croatia
France
Italy
Panama
UK
United States
AGAINST
China
Libya
Russia
South Africa
Vietnam
ABSTAINED
Indonesia

It also called for a UN special envoy for Zimbabwe to be appointed.

The resolution had the support of nine council members, the minimum required to pass in the 15-member council.

But the veto of any of the five permanent members is enough to defeat a resolution, and both China and Russia voted against.

Zimbabwe has become a matter of increasing international concern, as violence increased after disputed presidential elections.

The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the first round of Zimbabwe's presidential elections on 29 March, but official results gave him less than the 50% share needed to avoid a run-off.

He pulled out of the run-off poll after many of his supporters were targeted, assaulted and even killed, leaving Mr Mugabe to win unopposed in the second round at the end of June.

Since March, the opposition says 113 of its supporters have been killed, some 5,000 are missing and more than 200,000 have been forced from their homes.



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