- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Gordon Brown today called for an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe, following a Chinese ship’s efforts to deliver arms to the southern African nation.

Brown outlined the plan as he met for talks in London with Jacob Zuma, the leader of South Africa’s dominant political party.

The proposed embargo comes after South African dock workers refused last week to unload a Chinese ship carrying arms bound for Zimbabwe because of worries that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe plans to use them against political opponents.

“Because of what has happened in South Africa, where there is an arms shipment trying to get to Zimbabwe, we will promote proposals for an embargo on all arms to Zimbabwe,” Brown told lawmakers during his weekly question session.

Union, church and human rights leaders across southern Africa rallied against allowing the Chinese freighter to dock at ports in any of landlocked Zimbabwe’s neighbors.

They were bolstered by behind-the-scenes pressure from the State Department, which said it had urged countries in southern Africa not to allow the ship to dock or unload. It also asked the Chinese government to recall the vessel and not to make further weapons shipments to Zimbabwe until the postelection crisis is resolved.

The Zimbabwean government has not published the results of the presidential election held more than three weeks ago, and the opposition says that is part of a ploy to steal the vote. There are reports of increasing violence and Mugabe’s government is being accused of cracking down on dissenters.

The prime minister is seeking support for what he views as a de facto embargo already imposed by many of Zimbabwe’s neighbors, said a spokesman for Brown’s office, on condition of anonymity in line with government practice.

“We’ve seen action not just in South Africa, but also in Mozambique, Namibia, Angola and from the Southern African Development Community,” the spokesman said.

Officials were not immediately able to give specifics on how the proposed wider embargo would be enforced.

The proposal did not win support from Zuma, who said he does not believe a wider embargo is necessary yet.

“I don’t think we have reached the stage where we have to call for an arms embargo,” Zuma said as he left the meeting with Brown.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, leader of South Africa’s Anglicans, called on the U.N. Security Council today for an arms embargo against Zimbabwe “on the basis that a heavily armed Zimbabwe would threaten peace, security and stability in southern Africa.”

Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change claims postelection violence has displaced 3,000 people, injured 500 and left 10 dead. There is no way to verify the claims because of reporting restrictions in Zimbabwe.


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