Outcome of Zimbabwe polls illegitimate, says Ban

Outcome of Zimbabwe polls illegitimate, says Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized the outcome of Friday’s run-off presidential election in Zimbabwe – which went ahead despite international appeals for a postponement given the violence and intimidation that preceded it – as illegitimate.

“The outcome did not reflect the true and genuine will of the Zimbabwean people or produce a legitimate result,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued today in Tokyo, where the Secretary-General is currently on an official visit.

“The Secretary-General has said repeatedly that conditions were not in place for a free and fair election and observers have confirmed this from the deeply flawed process,” the statement added.

President Robert Mugabe was sworn in yesterday for another term after being declared the winner of the 27 June run-off. He was the sole candidate in the polls after violence and intimidation directed towards the opposition forces led to the withdrawal of Morgan Tsvangirai, the candidate of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The Southern African nation has been plagued by deadly violence and a worsening humanitarian situation since the first round of elections was held on 29 March.

Many MDC activists have reportedly been killed or injured in recent weeks and human rights defenders and staff with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been harassed.

“The Secretary-General encourages efforts of the two sides to negotiate a political solution that would end violence and intimidation,” according to the statement.

The situation in Zimbabwe is high on the agenda of the African Union Summit, which began today in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Mr. Ban expressed support for the efforts of the AU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to promote an agreement acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe, adding that Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and senior UN political aide Haile Menkerios – who are both at the Summit – are ready to help in any way possible.

Addressing the Summit, Ms. Migiro called the Zimbabwe crisis “the single greatest challenge to regional stability in southern Africa, not only because of its terrible humanitarian and security consequences, but also because of the dangerous political precedent it sets.”

Backing the Secretary-General’s call for a negotiated solution, she stressed that only dialogue between Zimbabwean parties, supported by the AU and other regional actors, can restore pace and stability to the country.

Ms. Migiro also welcomed the Summit’s focus on the global anti-poverty targets world leaders pledged to achieve by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – including the targets on water and sanitation. “With only seven and a half years to go, we must do everything possible to accelerate progress on the Goals,” she stressed.

A mark of this urgency, she recalled, was the convening by Mr. Ban of the MDG Africa Steering Group to support enhanced action by Africa and the international community. She encouraged AU leaders to endorse the Group’s recommendations, noting it will give additional leverage to the MDG agenda.

It will also send a strong message to the Group of Eight (G-8) ahead of its Summit next week in Japan. “The world’s most industrialized countries must live up to their global responsibilities, their past commitments, and their obligations to future generations –knowing that the African Union will do the same,” she stated.