President Robert Mugabe’s government dismissed the United Nations’ first session on Zimbabwe’s election crisis as “sinister, racist and colonial” on Wednesday and said it would have no impact on the country.
At the U.N. Security Council meeting on Tuesday, Western powers pressed for a U.N. mission or envoy to visit Zimbabwe, where the results of a disputed presidential election four weeks ago have still not been released.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says its leader Morgan Tsvangiari won the March 29 vote outright. The MDC accuses Mugabe of delaying results to rig victory and says a prolonged crisis will lead to widespread bloodshed.
“For us, this (U.N. session) is a sign of desperation by the British and their MDC puppets. It is sinister, racist and colonial for Britain to try to rope in everyone to support its neo-colonial agenda here ... but it will fail,” Zimbabwe’s Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told Reuters.
Former colonial power Britain has been at the forefront of international pressure on Mugabe. It is seeking an arms embargo on Zimbabwe, an investigation into post-election violence, and has called for the election results to be issued immediately.
“While we condemn all these machinations, we are also sure that the larger international community are getting to understand that our main problems are with the British. They are behind all these moves against us, but we will stand our ground,” Matonga said.
Verification of election votes has been put off until Thursday, again delaying when Zimbabweans will know if Mugabe will stay in power in a country critics say he has ruined with reckless economic policies. The process could take a week.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert told reporters the fact that the Security Council had met to discuss the crisis sent a signal to Zimbabwe’s authorities “that we are looking very carefully at what they are doing.”
The U.S. and British envoys said U.N. Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe had told the closed meeting that Zimbabwe was in the midst of its worst humanitarian crisis since independence from Britain in 1980.
Zimbabweans had hoped the election would ease economic turmoil. Instead, severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages are worsening and there are no signs an inflation rate of 165,000 percent -- the world’s highest -- will decrease.
In the aftermath of elections, violence which the opposition blames on Mugabe has spread through the country. The government denies it is involved.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement late on Tuesday that Zimbabwe’s army is supplying militants with weapons to intimidate voters to ensure Mugabe wins a possible runoff.
The rights body said military forces had equipped war veterans with weapons and trucks to scare Zimbabweans into backing Mugabe.
European countries, Latin American U.N. members and the United States also supported sending an envoy, diplomats said, but South Africa, which currently holds the council presidency, said such a move was not a matter for the council.
South African President Thabo Mbeki has come under attack at home and abroad for his softly approach to Zimbabwe.
Countries including the United States and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have said it was clear Tsvangirai won the election.
Zimbabwe’s U.N. ambassador suggested both sides would need to come up with a power-sharing deal in a national unity government.
“There is no way anybody can do without the other,” Boniface Chidyausiku told the BBC.