June 25, 2008

US Says Will Not Recognize Outcome of Zimbabwe’s 27 June Presidential Election

Text of report by South Africa-based Zim Online website on 25 June

[Report by Jameson Mombe: "SADC Meets on Zim as US Says Will Not Recognise Poll"]

JOHANNESBURG - The United States (US) has said it will not recognise the outcome of Zimbabwe's presidential run-off election on Friday being held amid worsening political violence that has killed 86 opposition members and displaced 200,000 others.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has taken refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare fearing for his life, withdrew from the election saying a free and fair vote is impossible under the current climate of violence and intimidation.

But President Robert Mugabe has said the vote will go ahead, ignoring calls by the United Nations (UN) Security Council and some southern African leaders to call off the poll and start negotiations with the opposition for a government of national unity.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said Washington would not recognise the result of the June 27 vote because Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had been violently forced out of the running.

"People were being beaten and losing their lives just to exercise their right to vote for their leadership so we cannot, under these conditions, recognise the outcome if, in fact, this run-off goes forward," said Frazer, Washington's top voice on Africa.

Frazer spoke as some leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were expected to hold an emergency summit in Swaziland on Wednesday to discuss Zimbabwe's crisis, but the regional bloc's official mediator in Zimbabwe, South African President Thabo Mbeki, was not expected to attend.

The SADC summit comes amid mounting international pressure for a solution to Zimbabwe's crisis that has negatively affected regional economies and spawned millions of refugees into neighbouring countries.

Earlier on Wednesday Tsvangirai called for the UN to isolate Mugabe and said an international peacekeeping force was needed to protect supporters of his MDC party until new free and fair elections can be held.

Tsvangirai wrote in an article in Britain's Guardian newspaper: "We ask for the UN to go further than its recent resolution, condemning the violence in Zimbabwe...we need a force to protect the people.

"We do not want armed conflict, but the people of Zimbabwe need the words of indignation from global leaders to be backed by the moral rectitude of military force."

In a statement, the Tanzania government said that country's President Jakaya Kikwete and the leaders of Angola and Swaziland would attend the emergency summit of SADC in their capacity as the region's troika on politics, defence and security.

"Others who have been invited to attend the meeting are the current SADC chairperson, (President) Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, and the SADC mediator for Zimbabwe, (President) Thabo Mbeki of South Africa," said the statement.

"The meeting will discuss how the SADC and its troika organ on politics, defence and security can help Zimbabwe to get out of its current state of conflict."

However, Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said he would not attend because he had not received an invitation to the summit, in a move signalling the widening rift within the bloc on how to deal with Mugabe.

Mbeki has preferred quite diplomacy which shuns public criticism of Mugabe while other leaders such as Mwanawasa ad Botswana's President Ian Khama have been more outspoken against the Zimbabwean leader.

"We are not going to Swaziland. We have had no invitation to go to any meeting, especially Swaziland," Ratshitanga told the Press.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission pressed ahead on Wednesday with the distribution across the country of ballot papers, boxes and other materials required for Friday's vote.

Originally published by Zim Online, Johannesburg, in English 25 Jun 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.