The UN Secretary Council has condemned Zimbabwe’s presidential election but, reportedly after pressure from South Africa, stopped short of saying the outcome would be illegitimate.
Counting is continuing after the vote, which is guaranteed to keep President Robert Mugabe in power and which has been widely criticised as a sham. The UN says the outcome cannot be fair but some Western diplomats had wanted a stronger statement.
The US Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, said: “They agreed that the conditions for a free and fair election did not exist and it was a matter of deep regret that the elections went ahead in these circumstances.”
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out fearing for the safety of his supporters. Dozens were killed during the campaign.
He told reporters: “Anyone who recognises the result of this election is denying the will of the Zimbabwean people and standing in the way of a transition that will deliver stability and prosperity not just to the country but to the whole region”.
The US is pushing for sanctions against Mugabe’s regime and is hoping for a new UN resolution endorsing these in the coming days. But diplomats say South Africa, China and Russia are almost certain to oppose sanctions, meaning they are likely to be imposed by the US and the EU acting independently.