Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd called today for international sanctions against Zimbabwe’s brutal regime.
Mr Rudd told his Parliament that a fair presidential election in the African country this week would have been impossible because of Robert Mugabe’s violence against his own people.
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew his candidacy yesterday because of the danger to voters.
Since 2002, Australia has refused to issue travel visas to Zimbabwean officials and has banned their adult children from studying at Australian universities.
Australia has also frozen regime members’ financial assets and banned aid to Zimbabwe other than humanitarian assistance such as food.
“We encourage other countries to extend similar levels of sanctions,” Mr Rudd told Parliament.
“We are actively considering what further measures may be taken to pressure the Mugabe regime,” he said.
“The Australian government, along with the international community, condemns the regime’s actions and commits to providing ongoing assistance to the people of Zimbabwe, the victims of their own government’s brutality,” he added.
New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark said Mr Mugabe’s campaign of violence against his opposition made Friday’s run-off election a “total farce”.
“He’s intimidated the opposition through outright killings, gross beatings, injury to within an inch of many people’s lives, so there is no democracy as anyone would understand it in Zimbabwe today,” she told New Zealand’s National Radio.
“The only (hope) will be if South Africa finally comes on board with the near-unanimous international opinion that this outrage has to stop. South Africa has in effect sheltered Mr Mugabe and his regime for a long time,” she added.