Statement of Senator Barack Obama on the Crisis in Zimbabwe
I am deeply disturbed by the recent events in Zimbabwe and condemn the actions of President Robert Mugabe in the strongest possible terms. The United States and the international community must be united, clear and unequivocal: the Government of Zimbabwe is illegitimate and lacks any credibility.
I welcome yesterday's United Nations Security Council statement condemning the violence sweeping Zimbabwe, and underscoring that the Zimbabwean government's campaign of repression and brutality has made it impossible for the June 27 elections to be free and fair. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is absolutely right when he says that run-off elections under these circumstances would lack any legitimacy.
Indeed, it is the result of the abrogated March 2008 elections that represents the genuine will of the Zimbabwean people. I have spoken with MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai to share my deep concern for the way his supporters are being targeted by the regime, and to express my admiration for his efforts to ensure that the will of the Zimbabwean people is finally respected.
The people of Zimbabwe have suffered far too long. They live in fear and struggle to survive, as opposition supporters and leaders, civil society activists, and ordinary citizens are subject to harassment, torture, and murder. The government-orchestrated economic catastrophe has wrought run-away inflation and food and fuel shortages. The regime's deliberate disruption of humanitarian operations has left the Zimbabwean people in utter despair. This crisis is affecting the entire Southern African region and mars the vision of a more just, prosperous, and stable continent to which African leaders are committed.
I am heartened by the growing chorus of African leaders supporting the civil and political rights of the Zimbabwean people. The Governments of Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Angola, Senegal, Kenya and South Africa's African National Congress (ANC), civil society leaders and trade unions have all denounced the Zimbabwean government's repression. But they must do much more to help prevent the crisis in Zimbabwe from spiraling out of control. In particular, the South African government and the ANC must recognize the need - and must call for - the kind of diplomatic action that is necessary to pressure the Zimbabwean government to stop its repressive behavior.
The United States should work with regional leaders and others to press for postponed elections conducted under a strong international monitoring presence and, to the extent possible, meaningful civil protection measures. If fresh elections prove impossible, regional leaders backed by the international community should pursue an enforceable, negotiated political transition in Zimbabwe that would end repressive rule and enable genuine democracy to take root. Finally, the United States must tighten our existing sanctions, just as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the UN should implement a carefully crafted regime of targeted sanctions against Zimbabwean officials who continue to thwart democracy and undermine the rule of law.