Friday, April 25, 2008


Tsvangirai won clear victory in Zimbabwe: top US envoy

April 25, 2008 - 6:13AM, smh

The United States government has called time on Robert Mugabe's 28 years as leader of Zimbabwe, saying he had clearly lost an election last month and his opponent should now head a new government.

After talks with officials in neighbouring South Africa, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer said the people of Zimbabwe had voted for a change on March 29, even though results were still to be announced.

"The most credible results we have today are a clear victory for Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round and maybe a total victory," Frazer told reporters in Pretoria.

"According to what we know, Morgan won in the first round and there should be a change."

Frazer also responded coolly to the idea of a national unity government to end the political deadlock between Mugabe's ruling party and the opposition, saying there was no way the president should be allowed to stay in office.

"You don't need a government of national unity, you simply have to respect the result of the election," she said.

"There may need to be a political solution, a negotiated solution but any government should be led by Morgan Tsvangirai."

Tsvangirai has already claimed he passed the 50 per cent threshold needed to avoid a second round run-off, although Mugabe's supporters have said a run-off is inevitable.

While the United States has heavily criticised the delay in releasing the results of the polls,

Frazer's comments mark the first time the Bush administration has declared that Tsvangirai was the winner.

The South African government, like most of Mugabe's neighbours, has been urging the authorities in Zimbabwe to stop sitting on the results but Frazer said any results would now be regarded with deep scepticism.

While Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party was initially declared the winner of a simultaneous legislative election, that result is also now up in the air as officials stage a partial recount.

"It is hard for us to accept that any result at this point would have any credibility," said Frazer.

"The Zimbabwean people voted for change and we feel the will of the people must be respected."

Frazer also said that Washington was "increasingly concerned about the violence and human rights abuses taking place in Zimbabwe after the elections."

"This has created a climate of intimidation and violence ... we can't stand back and wait for this to escalate further."

Her comments come after an association of Zimbabwean doctors said its members had treated at least 323 patients who had been beaten and tortured since the elections.

Frazer's onslaught represented a further tightening of the diplomatic pressure on Mugabe after a controversial Chinese arms shipment which was headed for Zimbabwe turned back.

China had been under massive international pressure not to go through with the planned delivery of a massive cache of weapons from a ship, the An Yue Jiang, despite defending the purchase by the Mugabe regime.

After the United States publicly called for the ship to turn back, and lobbied neighbouring countries not to help it reach its final destination, the Chinese government announced that the mission was being abandoned.

"To my knowledge, the Chinese company has decided to bring back the boat," Jiang Yu, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, told reporters in Beijing.

"The cargo was not unloaded because the Zimbabwe side failed to receive the goods as scheduled, so the Chinese company made the decision according to this situation," Jiang said.

There was no immediate reaction from Zimbabwe's government, which insisted earlier this week that it had a "sovereign right to buy weapons from any legitimate source worldwide".