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US warns Mugabe against declaring victory

world Updated: Jun 26, 2008 15:10 IST
Condoleezza Rice

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Zimbabwe's president on Thursday against declaring victory in what she said would be an illegitimate run-off election this week.

With the opposition boycotting tommorrow's vote due to ruling party violence and intimidation, Rice said no outcome would be acceptable and that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe must allow a legitimate government to take power.

"Clearly, no run-off election that doesn't have the participation of opposition can be considered legitimate, no outcome can be considered legitimate," she said in Kyoto, where she is attending a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrialised nations.

"This is not going to be a legitimate election, no one believes that it is going to be a legitimate election," she said.

The G-8 ministers are expected to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe in talks on today and Friday as Mugabe from the ruling ZANU-PF party runs unopposed in the run-off election after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out citing intimidation and violence against his MDC party.

Rice said the people of Zimbabwe must have a legitimate government and "it cannot be a legitimate government with the forces of President Mugabe doing the things that they are doing and then claiming an election victory."

She noted that Tsvangirai had said he was open to talking about forming a legitimate government and said that offer should be pursued. But, she added, if Mugabe claims victory, that could not happen.

"That offer obviously has to be taken up, but it can't be taken up from a position in which the Zimbabwean authorities declare themselves the victors and then believe that they can divide the spoils," Rice said.