UK parties united against Mugabe

All three of Britain’s political parties have moved quickly to condemn Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe after his rival pulled out of Friday’s election over the weekend.

Mr Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai had been due to contest a second-round runoff on June 27th, but the latter exited the race yesterday complaining that the vote was neither free nor fair.

The move has resulted in Mr Mugabe’s regime receiving widespread criticism from the international community, with foreign secretary David Miliband outspoken in his condemnation.

He suggested Mr Mugabe cannot be considered Zimbabwe’s legitimate ruler in an interview with Sky News yesterday.

“I think Zimbabwe is being bossed by Robert Mugabe and by his henchmen and he remains the apex of power despite the fact that the people of Zimbabwe deserted him quite a long time ago,” he said.

“We have reached an absolutely critical moment in the drive by the people of Zimbabwe to rid themselves of the tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe. He has made, and his thugs have made, an election impossible.”

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague echoed the government’s position, saying it was now “clear beyond doubt” that Zimbabwe is suffering under a “criminal government” which should be “treated as such”.

Withheld recognition of the Harare government, widened EU sanctions against the Mugabe regime and a debate on Zimbabwe at the UN security council are among the measures

Nick Clegg will speak later today on terms of intervention in his first foreign policy speech as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

He told BBC1’s The Politics Show that there is a “moral case” to intervene in Zimbabwe but said practical constraints make any military action “inconceivable”.

The opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claim some 86 people have been killed in violence leading up to the election run-off with 200,000 more displaced.

A statement from United Nations (UN) secretary Ban Ki-moon’s office claimed it “deeply regrets that, despite the repeated appeals of the international community, the government of Zimbabwe has failed to put in place the conditions necessary for free and fair run-off elections”.

White House spokesman Carlton Carroll said “the Mugabe regime reinforces its illegitimacy everyday”.

“The senseless acts of violence against the opposition as well as election monitors must stop.”

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice added that unless the UN security council acted strongly on the issue is stood to lose credibility.

Zimbabwe has been locked in a political crisis since the inconclusive presidential election of March 29th.