|A man and his family looked at results of the presidential runoff election outside a polling station in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press)|
Bush seeks more Zimbabwe penalties
Arms embargo, travel ban in plans
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe came under threat of further sanctions yesterday as President Bush said the United States was working on new ways to punish longtime leader Robert Mugabe and his allies after the widely denounced presidential runoff election.
Earlier yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States plans to introduce a UN resolution as early as next week seeking tough measures against Zimbabwe.
"We will press for strong action by the United Nations, including an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and travel ban on regime officials," Bush said in a statement issued while he spent the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
The United States has financial and travel sanctions in place against more than 170 citizens and entities with ties to Mugabe, White House spokesman Emily Lawrimore said. The Bush administration is considering punishing the government of Zimbabwe, as well as further restricting the travel and financial activities of Mugabe supporters, she said.
The European Union said it would not rule out imposing sanctions against "those responsible for the tragic events of recent months," according to an EU presidency statement.
Friday's runoff election was condemned by African and other world leaders. Mugabe was the only candidate, and observers said the few Zimbabweans who went to the polls did so out of fear.
According to human rights groups, at least 86 people died and some 200,000 were forced from their homes. Most of the violence was blamed on police, soldiers, and Mugabe militants. There were reports of victims being beaten for hours and bodies mutilated. When the main targets could not be found, relatives - elderly parents, young siblings - were attacked.
"The international community has condemned the Mugabe regime's ruthless campaign of politically motivated violence and intimidation with a strong and unified voice that makes clear that yesterday's election was in no way free and fair," Bush said.
In Zimbabwe, deputy chief election officer Utloile Silaigwana announced on state television that counting had finished in most wards and that the electoral commission was waiting for results from a few outstanding wards.
Results would still have to be verified by the national command center before being released, but an announcement was expected this weekend - contrasting sharply with the weeks it took to before Zimbabweans learned opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round.
Tsvangirai came first in a field of four in the first round in March, but the official count didn't give him the margin needed to avoid a runoff against second-place finisher Mugabe. Tsvangirai pulled out of the race after the onslaught of violence.
Earlier, Patrick Chinamasa, justice minister and senior Zimbabwe African National Union--Patriotic Front member, said the party was expecting results today.
Mugabe was expected to be sworn in before he leaves for tomorrow's African Union summit in Egypt, so he can attend as a reelected president.
On Friday, residents said they were forced to vote by threats of violence or arson from Mugabe supporters who searched for anyone without an ink-stained finger - the telltale sign that they had cast a ballot.
"There was a lot of intimidation for people to vote," said Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliament observer mission. "You can tell people just wanted to get the indelible ink to protect themselves."
The Herald, Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper, reported yesterday that a massive voter turnout was "a slap in the face for detractors who claimed this was a 'Mugabe election' that did not have the blessing of the generality of Zimbabweans."
But Khumalo said the turnout was "very, very low." He also said many of those who voted cast their ballots for Tsvangirai.
African foreign ministers were meeting yesterday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, ahead of tomorrow's general African Union summit. A Zimbabwe opposition leader asked the AU to send peacekeepers and dedicate a special envoy to help end the violence and political crisis in her country.
"Zimbabwe at the present moment is burning. It is on fire. What the African Union and the African leaders must do is save Zimbabwe before it is burnt beyond recognition," said the opposition's vice president, Thokozani Khupe.
Also yesterday, the international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said South Africa deported some 450 Zimbabweans overnight from a border detention center who were "fleeing instability and political violence."