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Mugabe lost disputed election, U.S. envoy says

Zimbabwe's opposition leader won his nation's disputed presidential election, the top U.S. envoy to Africa said Thursday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Zimbabwe's opposition leader won his nation's disputed presidential election, the top U.S. envoy to Africa said Thursday.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said that Morgan Tsvangirai won the March 29 presidential race, and that therefore no power-sharing arrangement was needed with longtime President Robert Mugabe.

"We think in this situation we have a clear victor," she told reporters. "Morgan Tsvangirai won and perhaps outright, at which point you don't need a government of national unity. You have to accept the result."

But she added: "There may need to be a political solution, a negotiated solution."

Frazer was speaking in South Africa at the start of a visit to bolster international pressure on Zimbabwe's government. The U.S. has long been among Mugabe's sharpest critics.

The opposition has claimed that its leader Tsvangirai beat Mugabe outright. Independent Zimbabwean observers also say Tsvangirai won, though not by enough to avoid a runoff.

Frazer said she was basing her conclusions on that independent tally.

Zimbabweans are still awaiting the results, with the opposition accusing Mugabe of withholding them while he plots how to keep power. Mugabe, 82, has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

Grenades and bullets
Frazer's comments came as China's Foreign Ministry announced that a shipment of weapons meant for Zimbabwe will return to China because there was no way to deliver it to the landlocked country.

The shipment — including mortar grenades and bullets — was to arrive amid a standoff in Zimbabwe over elections held more than three weeks ago.

But states neighboring Zimbabwe refused to allow the weapons to be offloaded and shipped through their territories.

"The (shipping) company took this decision," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "The shipment will be returning."

Jiang defended the shipment as a normal arms transaction and said the contract had been signed last year.

The timing of the arms shipment spotlighted China's ties with Africa, where its aggressive business practices and support for authoritarian regimes have drawn increasing scrutiny.

There is no international arms embargo against Zimbabwe, and China is one of the southern African nation's main trade partners and allies.

However, it was widely feared the arms could be used by Mugabe's regime to expand a clampdown on political opponents.