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UK calls for sanctions against Mugabe

Britain called for tough action as well as talk in the face of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's defiance and signs of disunity among his opposition.

world Updated: Jul 07, 2008 10:34 IST

Britain called for tough action as well as talk in the face of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's defiance and signs of disunity among his opposition.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband urged South Africa and the rest of the international community yesterday to "unite behind a tough, strong, clear (UN) Security Council resolution" calling for international sanctions against Mugabe.

Miliband spoke to reporters after visiting a downtown Johannesburg church that is a refuge for Zimbabweans fleeing their homeland's political and economic crises.

South Africa, though, has said the proposed resolution could undermine President Thabo Mbeki's attempt to mediate between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The US-drafted resolution backed by Britain would require nations to freeze the financial assets of Mugabe and 11 of his officials, and to restrict their travel to within Zimbabwe.

Miliband said such targeted sanctions would spare the majority of Zimbabweans, already suffering in a collapsed economy, and could result in those closest to Mugabe pressuring him to yield at the negotiating table. Mugabe is accused of holding onto power through violence and fraud.

Miliband also said he supported Tsvangirai's calls for the African Union to appoint a mediator to work with Mbeki. Tsvangirai accuses the South African leader of siding with Mugabe, who has extolled Mbeki's role.

"There has got to be a clear mix of diplomacy and sanctions," Miliband said, adding the suffering that Zimbabweans described to him yesterday during his tour of the Central Methodist Church would spur anyone to try to find a solution.