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Mugabe has "blood on his hands" - Gordon Brown

Transcript of Prime Minister's Question Time July 2 2008

Q2. [215351] Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): Robert Mugabe is a corrupt and brutal thug, who just goes to prove that someone can put their hand on the Bible and swear an oath, smile and smile and still be a complete and utter villain. Is it not the case, however, that the United Nations has been far too slow and reluctant to adopt a robust attitude to Mugabe? Is it not time that it was pointed out very clearly to him that he is no more the fairly elected President of Zimbabwe than Pinochet was of Chile?

The Prime Minister (Gordon Brown): I talked to the Secretary-General of the United Nations only this morning about what I believe are the responsibilities of the United Nations in this area. Given that the only credible election that has taken place was the one in which the Movement for Democratic Change actually recorded a victory, and given that the second round was a travesty at the hands of what is a blood-stained regime, I am pleased that, yesterday, the African Union called for an end to violence, set up a system of mediation and talked about a transitional Government in Zimbabwe. Having talked to the UN Secretary-General this morning, I think that it is right that the UN send an envoy to Zimbabwe. In the absence of real change, we will step up our sanctions and ask other countries to do so. We will press for tough action on Zimbabwe at the Security Council later today, and we will do so at the G8 in coming days. There will not be support for reconstruction in Zimbabwe until democracy is restored.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): I agree with every word that the Prime Minister has just said about Zimbabwe: the clearest possible message should go out that we do not recognise the illegitimate presidency of Robert Mugabe.

[CUT]

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con): In his answer to his hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), the Prime Minister seemed to welcome the African Union's outcome concerning Zimbabwe. Surely the real reading is that that outcome was a complete and utter sham. The reality is that President Mbeki's hand is now being seen in the process. Surely he is determined to maintain President Mugabe in his role. To do that, they will bully the MDC, try to divide it, and force it to form some sort of ludicrous union Government with President Mugabe. Surely the Government should get all the western Governments to say categorically to President Mbeki, "It is time for you to get rid of this man, and if you don't, trade and aid to South Africa will come under review."

The Prime Minister: It is indeed time for Mugabe to step down, and he has blood on his hands after what happened during the election campaign, in which so many people died and were displaced. I think that the right hon. Gentleman should read into the African Union summit and its decisions, which I have before me, something more positive than what he is suggesting. The summit concludes that the African Union is "Deeply concerned with the negative reports of SADC" - that is, the election observers - and is "concerned about...the loss of life" and wants to avoid "further worsening" of violence. It has reported that it will have an envoy and mediation in Zimbabwe. The aim is to involve the MDC in the Government. I have asked the Secretary-General of the UN to send a UN envoy to Harare. I think that it is important to recognise that the African Union did take a step forward yesterday, but there is a lot more to do, and we should support the United Nations, through the Secretary-General, in its efforts to achieve mediation that could bring about a transition to a democratically elected Government in Zimbabwe.

These are extracts from the transcript of Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons July 2 2008