Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the UN has dismissed calls for sanctions
against his country over pre-election violence, in an interview with US
Boniface Chidyausiku dubbed US-led calls for fresh UN measures against Zimbabwe a "non-issue".
Pressure is growing on African leaders meeting in Egypt to take a firm line on Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.
Mr Mugabe has claimed victory in a presidential poll that the opposition pulled out of amid widespread violence.
Asked about sanctions, Mr Chidyausiku told AP news agency: "I’m not
even bothered, I wouldn’t lose sleep over it… We are not a threat to
international peace and security."
He added: "We see the whole approach to sanctions as a weapon to try and effect a regime change in Zimbabwe."
The Zimbabwe crisis has overshadowed the African Union (AU) summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Sierra Leonean President Ernest Koroma said African leaders should use
Tuesday, the final day of the two-day summit, to condemn Mr Mugabe’s
Mr Koroma expressed support for a South African initiative to encourage
the formation of a transitional government of national unity.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga urged the AU to suspend Mr Mugabe until he allows free and fair elections.
And Senegal’s Foreign Minister, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, complained
of hesitancy among the AU leaders to openly pressure the Zimbabwean
But Africa’s longest serving leader, Gabon President Omar
Bongo, said Mr Mugabe should be accepted as the country’s elected
Before the opening meeting at the Red Sea resort, Mr Mugabe
hugged several heads of states and diplomats, one African delegate told
AP news agency.
Correspondents say he is still seen by many Africans as a hero of the anti-colonial struggle.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said
he was pressing for the Security Council to impose sanctions against
ZIMBABWE AND ITS NEIGHBOURS
The US is expected to present a draft resolution on Wednesday calling
for an arms embargo, a travel ban on regime officials and a freeze on
the assets of key individuals and companies.
US state department spokesman Tom Casey said: "We think it is important
that the African Union signal that a sham inauguration that was
preceded by a sham election does not make the government legitimate."
But analysts say it may be difficult to persuade South Africa, Russia, China and others to accept UN sanctions.
Criticism from Europe mounted on Monday with France labelling Mr
Mugabe’s government "illegitimate," and Britain saying the recent
election would not be recognised.
Italy – which last week urged EU nations to withdraw their ambassadors to Harare – recalled its envoy to Zimbabwe in protest.
MDC leader Mr Tsvangirai defeated Mr Mugabe in the presidential vote on 29 March but failed to win an absolute majority.
He reluctantly agreed to participate in the 27 June run-off but
withdrew blaming violence which he said had killed nearly 90 of his
He has been holed up at the Dutch Embassy in Harare since withdrawing from the race.