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Every day more world leaders join the chorus of criticism over
the on-going political turmoil in Zimbabwe. They are rejecting as a
fraud President Robert Mugabe's [RAH-behrt moo-GAH-beh] June 27
re-election following a campaign of violent voter intimidation, and
they are increasing pressure to resolve a crisis causing untold
suffering for the Zimbabwean people.
A move to turn this angst into action, however, stalled last week in
the United Nations Security Council. Representatives from Russia and
China vetoed a draft resolution that would have imposed sanctions on
Mr. Mugabe and a select number of other government officials, saying
that the situation in Zimbabwe is an internal matter and doesn't
threaten international security. So at least for now other ways must be
found to turn up the heat on Mr. Mugabe for his crimes. In the
meantime, the United States and others in the international community
will continue to reach out to the Zimbabwean people and look for ways
to be helpful to them.
Critics argue that political pressure alone will be enough to force
Mr. Mugabe to negotiate a settlement with the opposition party. But
political pressure failed to end the beatings and killings that led up
to the election, and there is little in Mr. Mugabe's record to suggest
he would share power.
The U.N. draft resolution would have banned arms sales to Zimbabwe
and impose a travel ban and financial freeze against Mr. Mugabe and 13
senior government ministers, army officers and others believed
responsible for election-related violence. Some see this as punitive
and likely to hurt efforts by Zimbabwe's African neighbors to mediate
the crisis. But again, mediation didn't stop the pre-election violence.
In fact, the attacks continue in sporadic revenge beatings by ruling
party supporters against opposition activists and their families.
Sanctions opponents need look only to South Africa where similar
action helped bring down the former apartheid government. Any delay in
putting pressure on Mr. Mugabe and his government compounds a tragedy
playing out not only in Zimbabwe, but in the neighboring countries
where thousands of Zimbabweans are fleeing, seeking refuge from the
violence and the economic and political insecurity that the Mugabe
regime has created.