The post-election crisis in Zimbabwe seemed likely to deepen following a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in which members were briefed on the mounting violence in the country following elections March 29, but which failed to take any formal action due to opposition by South Africa, China and other council members.
The country and the world at large remained in ignorance Wednesday as to who won the presidential election more than a month ago. Candidates and parties contesting the election received letters Wednesday from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission inviting them to what it described as a “verification” of its tally.
On Wednesday the Reuters and AFP news agencies quoted "senior government sources" and "sources close to the electoral commission," respectively, as saying that main opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai had failed to poll more than 50% of votes, pointing to a runoff election against President Robert Mugabe.
At the U.N. on Tuesday, Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Security Council on the crisis in Zimbabwe, prompting calls from the United States and other Western nations for a U.N. special envoy to be dispatched.
But South Africa, holding the Security Council presidency, with Ivory Coast, China and Russia, blocked Zimbabwe from being added to the council's official agenda.
South Africa argued that the Southern African Development Community was handling the crisis – an assessment many within and outside the region have challenged.
The Zimbabwean government has pledged to block any attempt by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send a special envoy to Harare, accusing the U.N. chief of siding with the opposition MDC. But international pressure continued to build.
The United States Senate passed a nonbinding resolution on Tuesday calling on President Robert Mugabe to step down, and urging the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the presidential results without further delay.
Zimbabwean U.N. Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the session was a triumph for Harare.
Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai, who briefed the U.N. Secretariat, said the opposition scored a major diplomatic coup simply by being received at the U.N. headquarters.