UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The United States on Thursday pushed for a UN travel ban and an assets freeze on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and 13 of his cronies in protest at last week's widely condemned, one-man presidential runoff vote.
US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad formally introduced a sanctions resolution, also including an arms embargo on the Harare regime, in the Security Council, and said he hoped it would be voted upon by the 15-member body next week.
The text would demand that the Mugabe government "begin without delay a substantive dialogue between the parties with the aim of arriving at a peaceful solution that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people as expressed by the March 29 (first-round presidential) elections."
Khalilzad said the draft contained "targeted sanctions on those who are responsible for the political crisis, with the expectation and hope that they will be incentivized to cooperate (in) resolving the crisis of legitimacy."
Under the US draft, Mugabe, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and 11 others would be targeted for their role in abetting the state-sponsored violence against the opposition, repressing human rights or undermining democracy.
An annex to the draft initially listing Mugabe and 11 other names was expanded Thursday to include Zimbabwe's Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made as well, diplomatic sources said.
The text would condemn the Harare government's decision to proceed with last Friday's one-man runoff presidential election "and the campaign of violence against the political opposition, which has resulted in scores of deaths, thousands of injuries... making it impossible for a free and fair election to occur."
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who bested Mugabe in the March 29 first presidential vote, had pulled out of the runoff saying nearly 90 of his supporters had been killed and thousands injured in violence he blamed on pro-Mugabe militia.
Tsvangirai, head of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has said he is open to dialogue, but has refused to recognize Mugabe as the country's elected leader after the runoff election much of the world has labeled a farce.
The MDC chief has made clear that any negotiations should be based on the first round vote, in which the official vote count had him just short of an outright majority.
The US draft would also direct UN chief Ban Ki-moon to appoint "an individual of international standing and expertise to serve as his special representative... who would support the negotiation process between the political parties in Zimbabwe."
Diplomatic sources said former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who helped broker a power-sharing agreement in Kenya last February, former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, Nigerian ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo and Ghanaian President John Kufuor were being considered for the mission.
The draft would also demand that Harare "end immediately all restrictions on international humanitarian assistance and support international aid organizations' access to all parts of the country for distribution of food, medical assistance and other humanitarian aid."
Although backed by Britain, France and other European council members, the text is virtually certain to be watered down as regional powerhouse South Africa, the main mediator in Zimbabwe's domestic political crisis, and veto-wielding China, a key ally of Harare, oppose its tough provisions.
Vietnam's Ambassador to the UN Le Luong Minh, who chairs the council this month, said many members need time to consult their capitals on the draft.
He confirmed that the full council would again take up the Zimbabwe crisis at a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.
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