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Why the US wanted a UN Security Council meeting on Zimbabwe

The United States pushed for Zimbabwe to be included on the United Nations Security Council agenda before the June 2008 presidential elections run-off because of increasing violence that would not allow free and fair elections.

It said dozens of opposition suspects had been killed and Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai arrested on several occasions.

United States and United Kingdom diplomats had also been detained and were threatened with being burned alive in their cars.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08STATE63183, SEEKING A SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON ZIMBABWE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08STATE63183

2008-06-12 01:12

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Secretary of State

VZCZCXRO7102

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN RUEHTRO

DE RUEHC #3183/01 1640121

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 120112Z JUN 08

FM SECSTATE WASHDC

TO RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 0622

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 8006

RUEHOU/AMEMBASSY OUAGADOUGOU IMMEDIATE 7280

RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE 2537

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE 9401

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME IMMEDIATE 6712

RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE IMMEDIATE 8831

RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB IMMEDIATE 0982

INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE IMMEDIATE 2609

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 2143

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 STATE 063183

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/11/2013

TAGS: PHUM PREL UNSC ZI

SUBJECT: SEEKING A SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON ZIMBABWE

 

Classified By: IO DAS Brian Hook for Reasons 1.4 (b) AND (d)

 

1. (SBU) Action request: Action addresses are asked to

demarche host governments at the highest possible level on an

urgent basis and report back to contacts listed below in

advance of the Security Council informal consultations on the

humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, scheduled for 10 a.m. on

June 12. Posts should seek host government agreement to

support a formal Security Council meeting to discuss the

political and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe before the

June 27 Presidential run-off election. Posts should draw on

the points in para 2 below. If USUN assesses that there are

the nine affirmative votes needed to agree to hold such a

meeting, USUN may call for a vote as early as June 13 to

adopt the agenda for the meeting. The meeting itself would

likely be held following Assistant Secretary General Haile

Menkerios’ June 17-19 trip to Zimbabwe. Background is

provided in paras 3-8. Posts are requested to respond as

quickly as possible by e-mail or cables slugged for

IO/UNP-Rebecca Goldenberg. End Action Request.

 

2. (U) Begin points:

 

— We believe the situation in Zimbabwe poses an increasing

threat to international peace and security in the region and

seek a formal Council meeting before the June 27 run-off

election. We may try to vote as early as June 13 to adopt

the agenda for the formal meeting in order to send a signal

to the Government of Zimbabwe that the Security Council is

closely following its actions and to give weight to UN envoy

Menkerios’ mandate. The formal Security Council meeting

itself would likely be held following Assistant Secretary

General Haile Menkerios’ June 17-19 trip to Zimbabwe.

 

— (For all posts except Ougadougou) We appreciate your

previous support for addressing Zimbabwe in the Council and

hope you will support a formal UNSC meeting.

 

— (For Ougadougou) We are pleased that President Compaore

has informed Secretary Rice of Burkina Faso,s intention to

support a Security Council meeting on Zimbabwe.

 

— We believe a free and fair Presidential election on June

27 is vital to the stability of Zimbabwe and of the region.

For that reason, we are especially alarmed at the credible

reports of large-scale, systematic violence and intimidation

in Zimbabwe targeted at members of the opposition party and

their supporters that could make a legitimate and credible

election impossible and undercut the will of the Zimbabwean

people as expressed in the March 29 elections.

 

— We believe the Security Council must be involved. The

Council must send a signal that the international community

is watching and will not tolerate such flagrant violations of

fundamental human rights. Without this pressure, we are

gravely concerned that there will be no possibility for a

free and fair election and, without a legitimate election,

certain prospects for greater violence, acute human

suffering, and increased refugee flows.

 

— The increasing violence in Zimbabwe is affecting

Zimbabwe,s citizens as well as humanitarian aid workers and

diplomats, and threatens to escalate in the days before and

after the election. Since the March 29 election, over 60

people have been murdered for the mere suspicion of

supporting the opposition, hundreds have been arrested, and

tens of thousands have been injured or forced to flee their

homes. The Zimbabwean government is also reportedly banning

several future opposition campaign rallies.

 

— On June 4, Presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai was

detained by the police for eight hours without cause and then

detained again on June 6. On May 13, U.S. Ambassador McGee

and representatives from eight other diplomatic missions were

detained by Zimbabwean security forces for about an hour. On

June 5, five U.S. and four British diplomats were detained at

gunpoint and threatened for six hours by Zimbabwean military,

police, and a group known as the “war veterans.” These

 

STATE 00063183 002 OF 003

 

 

detentions are unacceptable and violate the Vienna Convention

on the treatment of foreign diplomats.

 

— On June 5, the Zimbabwean government extended its campaign

of intimidation to NGOs and to some IOs, indefinitely

suspending their operations and thereby turning its back on

the humanitarian needs of its own people. UN agencies in

Zimbabwe asserted that this ban violated fundmental human

rights principles and “created life threatening conditions”

for more than 2 million vulnerable people who survive on

donor support; cut off support to tens of thousands of

orphans and vulnerable children and disrupted donor programs

to combat HIV/AIDS. There is fear that the government will

now use food relief as a political weapon to achieve

favorable election results.

 

— The effects of the Zimbabwean government,s policies are

being felt throughout the region. For example, people of

Mozambican and Malawian origins living and working in

Zimbabwe have in many cases been forced to return to their

ancestral countries. And in South Africa, Zimbabweans who

are fleeing to escape economic collapse and political unrest

have been the target of vicious anti-foreigner attacks. The

situation is clearly threatening stability in the region.

 

— We have supported and continue to support African efforts

to resolve the crisis. Unfortunately, there is no indication

to date that President Mugabe or his senior leadership is

listening. We hope that UN Assistant Secretary General Haile

Menkerios will be received by President Mugabe and permitted

to work unhindered in facilitating a free and fair election,

including the accreditation and deployment of election

observers from the African Union and the Southern Africa

Development Community throughout the country well in advance

of the June 27 run-off election.

 

— Council consideration of Zimbabwe at this time would

provide much-needed support to regional efforts to find a

solution that reflects the will of the people. It would also

be consistent with the Council’s authority under the Charter

to address situations that might lead to international

friction and to encourage regional conflict resolution

efforts. A UNSC meeting on Zimbabwe would also be consistent

with the Council,s action in adopting resolution 1809, which

expressed the Council,s determination to strengthen UNSC

cooperation with regional organizations in conflict

prevention.

 

Background

———-

 

3. (U) Post-Election Violence: In advance of the June 27

run-off Presidential election, the Zimbabwean government has

unleashed a surge of government-encouraged violence targeting

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters, especially

in rural areas. Dozens of suspected opposition supporters

have been killed, hundreds arrested, and thousands forced to

flee their homes. Presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai

was detained by the police for more than eight hours on June

3 and detained again on June 6. On June 5, the GOZ suspended

international relief operations.

 

4. (U) Detention of U.S. and UK Diplomats: On June 5, five

American and four British diplomats, as well as 3 local

employees from the American Embassy, were detained by the

Zimbabwe military, police and “war veterans” for six hours.

One of the local staff was beaten and the tires on one of the

vehicles were slashed. The diplomats were threatened with

being burned alive inside their cars, if they did not follow

the police to a local police station. The United States

protested this violation of the Vienna Convention to the

Foreign Ministry in Harare and to the Zimbabwean Ambassador

in Washington.

 

5. (SBU) Electoral Assistance: President Mugabe invited

the AU, SADC, and “friendly nations” to the GOZ to observe

the run-off election on June 27. The UN’s Electoral

Assistance Division is providing financial support to these

observers through the UN Electoral Assistance Trust Fund and

hopes to fund the deployment of 500 AU/SADC observers. The

U.S. and several other concerned nations will be making a

substantial donation to the Trust Fund.

 

STATE 00063183 003 OF 003

 

 

6. (U) UN Envoy to Zimbabwe: On June 5, the press reported

that Secretary General Ban had secured President Mugabe,s

agreement to accept the UN’s official help in the electoral

process. Menkerios plans to be in Zimbabwe from June 17-19

and will assist in facilitating the following areas:

UN-Zimbabwe dialogue, humanitarian observation, elections

support, and security.

 

7. (C) Security Council Involvement: For years, at least

some UNSC members have resisted having the Council address

the situation in Zimbabwe, with some members insisting that

the situation is internal and does not present a threat to

international peace and security. During an informal UN

Secretariat briefing on Zimbabwe on April 29, Russia, China,

South Africa, Burkina Faso, Libya, and Vietnam expressed

opposition to UNSC engagement on this issue. However, in a

telephone conversation with the Secretary on June 7,

Burkinabe President Compaore expressed his support for a UNSC

meeting on Zimbabwe. On June 5, in response to the detention

of the U.S. and UK diplomats, the Security Council authorized

the President of the Council (U.S.) to make the following

statement to the press: &The U.S. called for these

consultations today about the reports coming out of Zimbabwe

about the American and British diplomats detained and held at

gunpoint. The Council discussed the incident. The Council

expressed concern about the reports and also urged respect

for the Vienna Convention, in particular, the protection of

diplomats and property.8 However, the Council was not able

to agree on language expressing concern about the violence

directed against Zimbabwean citizens or Presidential

candidate Tsvangirai. After considerable discussion, the

Security Council agreed to hold informal consultations on the

humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe on June 12. The decision

to hold a formal UNSC meeting requires the affirmative votes

of nine UNSC Members and is not subject to veto.

 

8. Tripoli minimize considered.

RICE

 

(2 VIEWS)

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