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Helping Zimbabwe no easy task

The United States and Britain were in a quandary about what to do to make sure that Zimbabwe had credible and internationally supervised presidential elections after the announcement of the results in May 2008.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had received nearly 48 percent of the vote which was shy of the 50 plus one that was required for an outright victory.

The country, therefore, had to have a run-off between the two leading candidates, Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe who had polled 43 percent.

Mugabe had barred Britain and the United States from sending election observers to Zimbabwe arguing that they were biased because they had imposed sanctions on his government.

The two leading nations wanted the United Nations to send an observer team, but the UN could only do so if it was invited by Zimbabwe which appeared to have no intention at all to do so.

Britain and the United States could also not secure enough votes in the United Nations Security Council to force a special public session on Zimbabwe.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08USUNNEWYORK419, HELPING ZIMBABWE NO EASY TASK

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08USUNNEWYORK419

2008-05-12 16:14

CONFIDENTIAL

USUN New York

VZCZCXRO2010

OO RUEHBW RUEHDU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV

RUEHSR RUEHTRO

DE RUCNDT #0419/01 1331614

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 121614Z MAY 08

FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4244

INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 000419

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZM

SUBJECT: HELPING ZIMBABWE NO EASY TASK

 

REF: (A) USUN 404 (B) STATE 44297 (C) 44905

 

Classified By: Ambassador Alejandro Wolff for Reasons 1.4 B/D.

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. USUN’s soundings of the UN Secretariat and

UKUN show a common frustration about how best to assist

Zimbabwe. The UN’s elections division is prepared to

immediately deploy eminent persons to help calm fears and to

deploy a full team of elections observers within weeks on

Zimbabwe’s request if time and resources were made available.

The British have urged Secretary-General Ban to name a

special envoy or fact finding team, but the Secretariat to

date insists that either proposal could be implemented only

with the consent of Zimbabwe. Lacking necessary Security

Council votes to call a special session, concerned members

are left with the option of asking for Secretariat briefings

in closed consultations and await developments on the ground

to trigger such a request. Secretariat officials agreed to

investigate our concerns about the job performance of UNDP

ResRep Zacharias but made clear they do not share them. In

light of the opposition’s evident agreement to a runoff, post

suggests Department consider a possible USG contribution to a

UN-led election observer mission. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) In recent days Ambassador Wolff, USUN ECOSOC Chief,

Deputy PolCouns, and Poloffs have discussed USG Zimbabwe

concerns (reftels) with UN Under Secretary-General for

Political Affairs (DPA) Lynn Pascoe, DPA Assistant

Secretary-General Angela Kane, Director of the Electoral

Assistance Division Craig Jenness, UNDP Associate

Administrator Ad Melkert, DPA Africa I Team Leader Vallerie

de Campos Mello, and senior officials of the UK and French

missions.

 

3. (C) To Ambassador Wolff’s urging that the UN consider

fielding a fact-finding mission, U/SYG Pascoe and A/SYG Kane

reiterated Pascoe’s indication to the Council (Ref A) that

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is prepared to lend his good

offices to these or other efforts in coordination with the

African Union and with the consent of the Government of

Zimbabwe. Neither Pascoe nor Kane was sanguine that the AU

or Zimbabwe was interested in either idea.

 

4. (C) UKUN counts eight votes on the Council in favor of a

special public session on Zimbabwe (U.S., UK, France,

Belgium, Italy, Panama, Costa Rica, Croatia), one short of

the nine needed to convoke a meeting. (NOTE. Briefings in

closed Council consultations by the Secretariat can be called

by any member at any time. END NOTE.) UKUN therefore has

instead urged SYG Ban to greater action, demarching him

recently to request that he appoint a special envoy and a

fact-finding mission (even in the face of certain Zimbabwe

noncooperation) and that he prevail upon Latin American and

Caribbean states to offer election observers after Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe evidently indicated that observers

from these states would be acceptable. UKUN is hopeful that

Mugabe might agree to a small percentage of other nationals

in a joint AU/UN elections observer mission. In the

meantime, Council President (for May) UK intends to monitor

events on the ground with a view to calling for further

closed briefings as appropriate.

 

5. (C) Deputy PolCouns discussed the range of potential UN

elections observer assistance with Electoral Division Chief

Jenness, who said the response of his office would be

dictated by time, money, and Zimbabwe’s cooperation. He said

he could send eminent persons to Zimbabwe with the

government’s permission “virtually immediately.” At the

other end of the assistance spectrum, he said a full observer

mission would comprise 120 people deployed over a period of

three months. Recalling that the elections division depends

on donor contributions, he said funding would have to be

found on an ad hoc basis.

 

6. (C) Finally, USUN’s ECOSOC Counselor met UNDP Associate

Administrator Ad Melkert and UNDP Director for Africa Gilbert

Houngbo regarding ref B concerns about UNDP Zimbabwe ResRep

Augustino Zacharias. Melkert confirmed that UN offices in

Zimbabwe are on a “phase 2” security alert, but insisted that

this does not restrict UN personnel to Harare and that the

offices are “completely operational.” Regarding a possible

pro-Mugabe bias, Melkert said Zacharias enjoys the full

confidence of his office and asked for further details of

bias as alleged Ref B, para 10.

 

7. (C) COMMENT. In view of reports that Zimbabwe’s opposition

has agreed to a run-off election, which would almost

certainly be delayed beyond the May 23 date technically

mandated, Post suggests USG emphasis should also be on

pushing Zimbabwe, directly and indirectly, to accept a robust

team of election observers, to include a UN element. Pending

 

USUN NEW Y 00000419 002 OF 002

 

 

development of an observer mission budget, Post suggests that

Department preliminarily consider possibilities for a USG

contribution. END COMMENT.

Khalilzad

(5 VIEWS)

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