Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 15:58 UK

US moots UN sanctions on Harare

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (file pic)
Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980

The top US diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, has said the UN Security Council should consider sanctions on Zimbabwe over the post-election crisis.

She told the BBC that if the situation did not change "we should contemplate multilateral sanctions through the UN".

Ms Frazer, who is touring the region, urged African leaders to speak "very loudly" against post-poll violence.

Opposition and human rights groups allege a government campaign of abuses in the wake of last month's vote.

Four weeks after the elections, results from the presidential race remain unreleased.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which overturned President Mugabe's parliamentary majority for the first time in 28 years, says its candidate Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidency outright.

Independent monitors have also said he got the most votes, but may not have gained the absolute majority necessary to avoid a run-off poll.

'Youth militia'

Ms Frazer said the US Embassy in Zimbabwe had received documented evidence of more than 450 people who had been beaten since the vote, one death and about 1,000 people who had been displaced.

The Standard, Zimbabwean pro-opposition newspaper, page about post-election deaths
The MDC says 15 of its supporters have been killed

The MDC says 15 of its supporters have been killed.

The US envoy has been touring southern Africa, seeking to push regional leaders towards more open criticism of Mr Mugabe.

"The region needs to speak very, very loudly and very clearly to President Mugabe and his government to say that the violence must come to an end immediately," she said.

"It's unacceptable to beat people just because they've decided to go out and vote."

The UN should impose sanctions on Zimbabwe but a military intervention would be more helpful
Tafara Shoko, Johannesburg, South Africa

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has been mediating between the two sides, but correspondents say the long-time Mugabe ally's policy of "quiet diplomacy" has been widely derided.

Ms Frazer's comments came a day after a partial recount of votes in the presidential election failed to reverse Mr Mugabe's lost parliamentary majority.

"We believe the whole recount exercise is just an exercise in delay... in allowing Robert Mugabe to intimidate the population, to create the machinery so that he can rig [a potential run-off] vote if necessary," she told the BBC.

'Pattern of violence'

Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission has said that the recounts in 23 constituencies should be completed by Monday, after which party representatives will be invited to a "verification" process, leading to the release of the long-awaited presidential results.

Archbishop John Sentamu
Dr John Sentamu has been a consistent critic of Mr Mugabe

Sunday saw fresh condemnations over mounting evidence of a government-sponsored campaign of intimidation against opposition supporters.

The Archbishop of York, leading a day of prayer for Zimbabwe, urged members of the army and police not to "terrorise the ordinary citizens" and warned them "not to prop up a government" that "lacks legitimacy".

And UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said she was "particularly concerned about reports of threats, intimidation, abuse and violence directed against NGOs, election monitors, human rights defenders and other representatives of civil society".

She said reports suggested "an emerging pattern of political violence inflicted mainly, but not exclusively, on rural supporters of the opposition MDC party" although there were "some reports of MDC supporters resorting to violence and intimidation".

In Harare, lawyers continued to seek access to about 200 opposition supporters arrested during a police raid on MDC offices on Friday.

The government says they are suspected of involvement in political violence, although the MDC say many of them were taking shelter after fleeing intimidation in rural areas.


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