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British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
"The elections were a triumph for the democratic spirit"
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Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Cook calls for fresh start in Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe must work with the opposition, Mr Cook insists
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has called on Zimbabwe's President Mugabe to work with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change for the good of the country's people, following the elections.

Mr Cook said the time is right for "national reconciliation in Zimbabwe".

Despite the climate of fear, the people of Zimbabwe showed they expect and they deserve a much greater level of democracy

Robin Cook
With Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party winning just over half the seats and reports of ballot-rigging by his supporters, Mr Cook said he hoped the president would "recognise the clearly-expressed will of the people for a fresh start".

He insisted that the 36m aid package he had offered previously to assist land reform was still on the table - but only if Mr Mugabe took up the offer of the opposition MDC to work together to restore law and order and tackle Zimbabwe's deep economic crisis.

Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude said Mr Cook should rule out the offer of the aid package in the light of reports of voter intimidation and gerrymandering by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

'Deplorable violence'

Mr Cook warned: "The 36m exists in our budget line, but it will only be spent if they adopt policies that bring economic sense to Zimbabwe and respond to the needs of the people.

"The severe economic circumstances of the country and the urgent social need of its people require a common effort and a new spirit of co-operation," he said.

He acknowledged the campaign was marred by "deplorable violence", including systematic beatings, and that constituency boundaries had been deliberately redrawn to favour Zanu-PF candidates.

"The remarkable thing in these circumstances is how many of the people of Zimbabwe braved the violence and voted for change," Mr Cook said.

"Almost half of them voted for a new beginning. Despite the climate of fear, the people of Zimbabwe showed they expect and they deserve a much greater level of democracy."

'Freeze assets'

Tory Francis Maude went further, claiming that international monitors' reports about vote-rigging "drives a stake through the heart of Mugabe's claim to represent the legitimate will of the Zimbabwe people."

He called for the president's overseas assets to be frozen and an international travel ban to be imposed on him and members of his regime if observers found proof that the election was rigged.

"There can be no doubt that the Movement for Democratic Change would have won a great victory had it not been for the widespread intimidation, gerrymandering and ballot-rigging by Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party," he said.

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27 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe opposition cries foul
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