UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) – A draft resolution calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe, including a travel ban and freezing the assets of President Robert Mugabe and 12 other individuals, was not adopted by the 15-member UN Security Council on July 11.
Permanent Security Council members China and Russia vetoed the text with South Africa, Libya and Vietnam voting against the resolution.
The draft received favorable votes from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Croatia, Burkina Faso, Costa Rico, Italy and Panama–the necessary number for a majority–while Indonesia abstained. Two days before the vote, Indonesian Ambassador Dr. R. M. Marty M. Natalegawa explained to reporters that his delegation wanted to show solidarity with Africa.
The issue of African solidarity was also the reason Libya voted against the resolution, according to the North African nation’s ambassador, who insisted that the Security Council give talks between the Mugabe regime and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), a chance to proceed.
Before the vote Zimbabwe ambassador to the UN Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku addressed the council and stressed “political dialogue is on going between the contending parties.” Amb. Chidyausika added that President Mugabe in his inaugural statement “reached out to the opposition and said that it was now imperative for the nation to look forward to the future with a sense of unity.”
South Africa’s ambassador to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, explained his delegation’s vote by saying dialogue was taking place in Pretoria, South Africa as the council was meeting. A vote in favor of the resolution would possibly hamper progress, he said.
“We are encouraged by the commitment to dialogue by the Zimbabwe parties,” Amb. Kumalo said.
Chinese Amb. Wang Guangya said “adopting the resolution would be counterproductive to the initiatives and efforts now underway.”
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad refused to acknowledge dialogue taking place between the two parties under South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was appointed chief mediator on Zimbabwe elections in 2007 by the Southern African Development Community.
“There are no serious, substantive negotiations underway between President Mugabe and the opposition,” stated Amb. Khalilzad.
The American ambassador also had strong words for Russia and China. “The United States is disappointed that the Russian Federation and China today prevented the Security Council from adopting a strong resolution, for reasons that we think are not borne out by the facts on the ground,” he said.
Amb. Khalilzad added, “The Russian performance today raises questions about its reliability in the international community.”
Observers had been saying the new Russian leader, Dimitri Medvedev, might use the Zimbabwean resolution as a test of his fledgling presidency. He had warned the U.S. and U.K., during a press conference after the recent G8 summit in Japan, that Russia did not believe a new Security Council resolution seeking sanctions against Zimbabwe was necessary and had warned Russia would veto or abstain from voting on the resolution, according to the Associated Press.
The Security Council was informed during a 3:30 p.m. closed door session that preceded the vote that Russia was serious about using its veto. The U.S. and UK insisted on going through with the vote anyway.
The Zimbabwean ambassador was asked by reporters afterward why the two nations insisted on going forward. “Arrogance,” he said. “The U.S. and Britain still believe they control the world.
“We have been haunted by the UK since 2002, when their government reneged on the land reform deal reached in 1980 at Lancaster House,” the ambassador said. “Today we have seen reason at the UN. I want to express our gratitude for those who refused to be intimidated,” the Zimbabwean diplomat added.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” exclaimed Attorney Roger Wareham of the December 12 Movement and Secretariat, a Brooklyn-based non-governmental organization, after The Final Call informed him of the vote. The group observed the March 29 and June 27 elections in Zimbabwe. “We are thankful that Russia and China resisted the pressure and coercion from the U.S. and the UK.” he said.
“For now the West has been forced to back off of Zimbabwe, but the U.S. and UK bear watching,” Mr. Wareham said.
What next for Zimbabwe? (FCN, 07-15-2008)
FCN Editorial – Landless democracy in Zimbabwe (FCN, 07-15-2008)
Minister Farrakhan’s Message to Zimbabwe (FCN, 07-15-2002)