- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Defying Mugabe

A leading journalist from Zimbabwe told editors and reporters at The Washington Times that just visiting The Times could get him arrested when he returns home to vote in the presidential election next month.

"Talking to you is a crime, but we are of the opinion that the laws are illegal and we will ignore them," said Mark Chavunduka, editor of the Standard newspaper in the capital, Harare.

Mr. Chavunduka already has experienced what passes for justice in Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe. He was arrested and tortured in 1999 for reporting on apparent corruption in the Mugabe regime.

"We have reached a stage where we are saying that something has to be done. We can't all run away from Zimbabwe," he told The Times on Monday.

Mr. Chavunduka, and Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe, came to Washington for meetings on Capitol Hill and with Bush administration officials to press for "targeted sanctions" against Mr. Mugabe, our correspondent, Tom Carter. writes.

Mr. Mugabe, in the midst of an election campaign, is facing internal opposition and international condemnation for illegal land seizures, violence against his political opponents and for creating Draconian laws to maintain his grip on his 22-year rule.

Mr. Mukonoweshuro said independent polls show that if the March 9-10 elections were free and fair, Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) would win 35 percent or less of the vote. At least 65 percent would go to Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The MDC reported Monday that four of it members were killed by ZANU-PF activists over the weekend.

Mr. Mukonoweshuro said that thus far the United States and the European Union have done little but talk. He said money looted by Mugabe officials from Zimbabwe and held in foreign banks should be confiscated, and Europe and the United States should impose visa restrictions on Mugabe officials and their families.

"Mugabe is not afraid because nothing has happened. It all been talk, talk, talk," Mr. Mukonoweshuro said.

He said the travel restrictions should extend to their families because of Mr. Mugabe's cronies have children in college in the United States.

"That would hurt the leadership and send a message to everyone in Zimbabwe that the international community cares about what happens in Zimbabwe," he said.

Mission to Manila

Francis Ricciardone Jr. said he is determined to help fight terrorism in the Philippines, as he assumed his new position of U.S. ambassador in Manila.

The Senate this week confirmed Mr. Ricciardone and expressed hope he will work hard for the release of Martin and Gracia Burnham, a Kansas couple held hostage by Muslim terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden.

"I am pleased the Senate confirmed Frank Ricciardone," said Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Now the Burnhams will have a strong advocate, officially installed in the Philippines, working on their behalf to free them."

As his confirmation hearing in December, Mr. Ricciardone reiterated a demand from President Bush and Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group release the Burnhams.

"The Bush administration, including our mission in Manila, will press that demand unrelentingly, and we will continue to offer all possible support information, and compassion to the Burnham family," he said.

In the Philippines, the United States has also opened another front in the war against terrorism, as 600 American troops are helping train the Philippine army in tactics to fight Abu Sayyaf.

"I hope to enhance our cooperation to hasten the success of the Philippine armed forces, government and civil society in defeating terrorism," Mr. Ricciardone said at his Senate hearing.

Mr. Ricciardone, a Filipino-American, is a career Foreign Service officer who has served in Turkey and Jordan. He was most recently senior adviser to the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

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