Ban voices concern after opposition pulls out of violence-ridden Zimbabwe polls

Ban voices concern after opposition pulls out of violence-ridden Zimbabwe polls

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concern over the political impasse in Zimbabwe, calling today's withdrawal of the opposition leader from next week's presidential run-off election a “deeply distressing” development that does not bode well for democracy in the Southern African nation.

“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,” according to a statement issued today by Mr. Ban's spokesperson.

“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 statement added.

Zimbabwe has been beset by deadly political violence since the first round of the presidential election on 29 March. Mr. Ban had been calling for an immediate end to the hostilities, cautioning that the ongoing violence threatened the credibility of the 27 June run-off, in which Mr. Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was set to face President Robert Mugabe.

“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,” today's statement stressed once again, adding that the UN stands ready to work “urgently” with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union to help resolve this political impasse.

In addition, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios, who was sent by Mr. Ban to Zimbabwe last week in an attempt to reduce political tensions ahead of the run-off, remains in the region to assist.