Brown accuses Mugabe of trying to steal Zimbabwe’s election

Prime minister Gordon Brown has accused Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe of trying to “steal” the country’s election.

At a meeting of the United Nations (UN) security council meeting in New York today, Mr Brown said: “No one thinks, having seen the results at the polling station, that Mugabe has won.

“A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all,” the prime minister declared.

Mr Brown called for a single message to be sent out from the UN to Zimbabwe calling for a democratic and free election as the crisis in the African country continues.

A meeting between Mr Brown and South African Thabo Mbeki, who has controversially failed to criticise Mr Mugabe, was postponed today, although scheduling difficulties were cited as the reason for the change.

Mr Brown said in his address: “Three weeks ago the people of Zimbabwe sent a strong message of their commitment to democracy”.

He added the UK was working to “ensure that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is upheld”.

Earlier today reports suggested supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in Zimbabwe were facing violent attacks.

A spokesperson for the MDC told the AFP news agency at least 50 people, including an MP, have been arrested after the failed general strike attempt on Monday.

The developments came as the UN security council began analysing the situation in Zimbabwe.

The security council is spending the day looking at its relationship with the African Union and is due to be addressed by secretary general Ban Ki-moon on the issue.

Mr Brown will meet with US president George Bush at the White House tomorrow with the pair expected to discuss the global economic crisis and the situation in Iraq.