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UN Chief Urges Zimbabwe To Postpone Presidential Elections

  • VOA News

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Zimbabwe's government to postpone Friday's run-off presidential election, saying a vote held in the current violent conditions would lack all legitimacy.

The secretary-general said Monday that conditions do not exist right now for a free and fair vote and holding the election would only deepen divisions within the country.

Mr. Ban made his comments as the UN Security Council went into discussions about Zimbabwe .

France's UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, said he expects the council meeting to be "tense," but that members realize Zimbabwe's crisis is no longer an internal matter, but one that threatens regional peace and stability.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has already pulled out of Friday's run-off againstincumbent Robert Mugabe saying too many of his supporters were being killed and injured during campaigning.

The Netherlands says Mr. Tsvangirai asked to stay at the Dutch embassy Sunday night for safety reasons but he has not requested asylum.

Zimbabwe's police chief dismissed Mr. Tsvangirai's concerns saying, in his words, he should go home and enjoy his sleep.

Police raided the headquarters of Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party in Harare Monday. A party spokesman (Nelson Chamisa) says police took away about 60 people, most of them women and children. Police say they took away 39 people.

Mr. Tsvangirai told VOA (Studio 7 Zimbabwe) today that he is open to a government of national unity, and that he supports postponement of the run-off election. Zimbabwean officials say the run-off will go ahead as planned on Friday because Mr. Tsvangirai has not turned in written confirmation of his withdrawal.

Mr. Tsvangirai said Sunday that Mugabe supporters have killed more than 80 MDC activists since the first round of voting in late March. Government officials blame the violence on the MDC.

The head of the African Union Commission says Zimbabwe's election crisis is of "grave concern," and that the AU has begun discussions with its African partners on what action to take.

South Africa's government is urging the MDC to continue peace talks with the government to find a lasting solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic crises.

Mr. Tsvangirai defeated President Mugabe in the initial election March 29th. But the official tally released the next month showed him falling short of the majority needed to avoid a second-round vote.

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