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Saturday, June 28, 2008
Ministers slam Mugabe one-man poll 'sham'
KYOTO — The Group of Eight foreign ministers strongly denounced Zimbabwe's regime at the Friday end of their two-day summit in Kyoto, with several calling the country's one-candidate runoff presidential election the same day a sham and threatening further U.N. Security Council action.
"We deplore the systematic violence, obstruction and intimidation which have made a free and fair presidential runoff election impossible. We note the results of the March 29 election must be respected and that any dialogue between the parties must allow a legitimate government to be formed," the ministers said in a statement.
"We will not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people," the statement said.
Friday's runoff was demanded by President Robert Mugabe after he lost the first round of elections in March. The Mugabe government has since killed opposition supporters and injured thousands of others, drawing condemnation from African leaders and the international community.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai refused to participate in Friday's election.
Mugabe has also suspended international humanitarian aid to his country, and the G8 ministers called on the suspension to be lifted and for international humanitarian organizations to return.
"This election was one-sided in every aspect. It's very clear on the part of the United Kingdom there is no legitimacy of the government of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe," David Miliband, the U.K. foreign secretary, told a joint news conference.
"Let me underscore the sham election that is going on in Zimbabwe as we speak, with the opposition in hiding or protective custody, with the opposition followers having been intimated and beaten up," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. "This kind of sham cannot possibly produce a legitimate outcome."
Japan, the United States and Australia agreed Friday to strengthen cooperation in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and counterterrorism activities.
In a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of Eight foreign ministers' meeting in Kyoto, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced that they would build on the lessons learned from the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and improve coordination efforts for disaster relief and other humanitarian emergencies in the region.
The three countries agreed to identify contact points for humanitarian assistance and natural disaster relief officials, and to have these officials meet to review and discuss ways in which to cooperate trilaterally.
In addition, the three countries are working together on a variety of counterterrorism activities.