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insists UN Council focus on Zimbabwe
July 26, 2005
(Reuters) - The government challenged the U.N. Security Council
on Tuesday to openly address Zimbabwe's bulldozing of slums, threatening
a rare public clash between council members like China that back
Harare and the African state's critics.
Jones Parry was opposed by China, Russia and Algeria when he asked,
behind closed doors, for a public briefing by U.N. official Anna
Tibaijuka on a report in which she accused Zimbabwe of demolishing
shantytowns in a campaign that was unjustified and indifferent to
Jones Parry then vowed to raise the issue again on Wednesday morning
under a provision of the U.N. Charter obliging a public vote if
his request was challenged.
would need the support of nine of the council's 15 members to win
a procedural vote on whether Tibaijuka should brief in public. He
said speed was crucial as Tibaijuka planned to leave New York for
her home in Nairobi in two days.
A briefing on
the government drive to flatten urban slums would mark the first
time Zimbabwe has emerged as a council focus, due primarily to China's
policy of opposing council intervention in other nations' internal
A public airing
would also mark a breakthrough for Britain and the United States,
who have long wanted the council to zero in on Zimbabwean President
Mugabe's policies, which Western critics say have thrown the country
into a political and economic tailspin.
The threat of
a council slugfest surfaced while Mugabe was in Beijing to sign
an economic and technical cooperation deal with Chinese leader Hu
Mugabe has had
close ties with China since his guerrilla days against white rule
in the 1970s, when only Beijing supported his movement. Since then,
Mugabe has received substantial aid and investment from China.
The United Nations,
meanwhile, played down earlier word that U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan had accepted Mugabe's invitation to visit Zimbabwe, to
see firsthand the impact of its "Operation Restore Order."
"It is not imminent,"
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said of a possible Annan visit,
adding that the secretary-general had accepted the invitation "in
Before the U.N.
leader could come, the government would have to stop evicting people
from their slum dwellings, ensure humanitarian aid was getting to
those in need and launch a political dialogue aimed at healing the
wounds created by the mass demolitions, Dujarric said.
special envoy and head of U.N. Habitat, the world body's urban settlements
arm, said in a strongly worded report on Friday that Zimbabwe's
campaign to clean up illegal shantytowns had destroyed the homes
or jobs of at least 700,000 people and affected the lives of another
is quite powerful in what it says. The council deserves to be briefed
on it by its author, Mrs. Tibaijuka," Jones Parry told reporters
outside the council chamber.
The United States,
France, Denmark and Romania were among those supporting his request,
although other members argued for a compromise such as a closed-door
briefing or an informal meeting outside the council chambers, diplomats
"This is an
issue that is totally appropriate for the Security Council," U.S.
Ambassador Anne Patterson told reporters. "The situation is so unstable
that it threatens neighboring countries ... It is verging on a crisis
But China, supported
by Russia and Algeria, told council members not to meddle in Zimbabwe's
internal affairs and argued the matter was best left to the African
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