Robert Mugabe’s “illegitimate” regime must be rejected by the world, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged today as votes were counted in Zimbabwe’s “sham” election.
Independent observers reported a very low turnout in the single-candidate run-off despite reports of widespread violent intimidation of voters to turn out.
Many of those who did go to the ballot box were said to have spoiled their papers or marked the name of Movement for Democratic Change opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Tsvangirai, who is thought to have won March’s disputed presidential election, pulled out last week in protest at a brutal Government-organised campaign against his supporters.
As Mr Mugabe prepared to declare himself the winner and be re-sworn in, Mr Brown said he had reached “a new low” and urged African countries to help ensure the “sickening chapter” was closed.
“The world is uniting in rejecting the illegitimate regime of Robert Mugabe,” he said, after the United Nations Security Council issued a statement deeply regretting the election.
“We will work with international partners to find a way to close this sickening chapter that has cost so many lives.
“The forthcoming African Union summit is an opportunity for the region to restore hope to the people of Zimbabwe. Democracy will ultimately prevail.”
The main spotlight at the gathering of AU countries in Egypt from Monday will be on South Africa, whose president Thabo Mbeki is under pressure to openly condemn the Mugabe regime.
The UN Security Council statement stopped short of declaring it illegitimate, reportedly at the insistence of South Africa.
Mr Mugabe is expected to attend the AU meeting.
Developments in Zimbabwe came as it was reported the violent intimidation had been extended to dissidents in the UK.
The Independent said around 4,000 MDC members living in the UK had been targeted by a campaign orchestrated by the Mugabe regime’s security force, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
It cited intelligence sources as confirming such a campaign – including threats to evict family members in Zimbabwe and efforts to disrupt vital overseas fundraising by the MDC.
MDC UK and Ireland treasurer Tendai Goneso told the newspaper: “It is a highly-organised and co-ordinated campaign to intimidate members and interrupt our ability to send money to support the presidential campaign. Mr Mugabe has exported the methods he has used against Zimbabweans at home to the heart of the former colonial power.
“Our members are being filmed, they are whispered to that they are doing the work of the ’white man’, they receive phone calls saying they are on a list in Harare. It is the sort of onslaught that can only have come from within the regime.”