April 21, 2008 / 8:52 PM / 12 years ago

Tsvangirai appeals for U.N. intervention in Zimbabwe

ACCRA (Reuters) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and African leaders to intervene in his country’s post-election crisis on Monday, saying the military were terrorizing the people.

Zimbabwean Timashe Hove cries inside his home in Harare's low density suburb of Mabelreign April 21, 2008. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

U.N. Secretary-General Ban expressed deep concern over the violence and polarization he said was prevalent in Zimbabwe, during talks with Tsvangirai on the sidelines of a U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) meeting in Accra.

“He told me that the military had been deployed around the country terrorizing people, and therefore many people had been running away from their homes and hiding somewhere, which had in turn created a very serious humanitarian situation,” Ban told reporters after the talks, which lasted roughly half an hour.

Tsvangirai complained that regional leaders had failed to help Zimbabwe and asked for United Nations and African Union intervention and humanitarian assistance, he added.

Zimbabwe’s opposition says Tsvangirai won last month’s presidential polls and that President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980, is attempting to cling to power by delaying declaring the results.

Zimbabwe also announced a delay on Sunday in a partial recount of the votes in a parallel parliamentary election, extending a deadlock in which the opposition says 10 of its members have been killed and hundreds arrested.

Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC, has taken the strongest African stand on the issue. He again said Zimbabweans would pay a heavy price if the crisis were not resolved soon.

“We speak out to promote democracy, peace and stability, and also because as all democrats know, no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people,” Zuma said in Berlin, where he met with German, Indian and Brazilian politicians in a dialogue on global challenges.

“We also speak because as neighbors who are directly affected, we want to avoid a deepening social and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, which would be difficult to resolve.”

In Harare, Mugabe’s justice minister denied opposition accusations that a government security crackdown killed 10 MDC activists and accused Tsvangirai’s supporters of planning widespread violence.

“As to whether there’s a war, well, they’re (opposition) wishing it, but the people of Zimbabwe are peaceful,” Patrick Chinamasa told a news conference.

Former colonial power Britain accused Mugabe of trying to steal Zimbabwe’s election and of unleashing a campaign of violence against people who had voted against him.

In Britain’s most outspoken criticism of the disputed March 29 election, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the world could be witnessing a “charade of democracy” in Zimbabwe.

He urged African leaders to do more to resolve the crisis, saying “democratic legitimacy throughout Africa is at stake.”

“President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have unleashed a campaign of violence against those ordinary Zimbabweans, 60 percent of them, who in spite of everything voted against him,” Miliband said.

A joint AU-U.N. mission to Zimbabwe was proposed at last week’s AU-U.N. Security Council summit in New York, but Ban said he would have to discuss any specific measures with the AU.

The recount could overturn the parliamentary results, which showed Mugabe’s ZANU-PF losing its majority to Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the first time.

Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations and Adrian Croft in London; Editing by Michael Georgy and Jon Boyle

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