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Another Showdown Over Debate On Zimbabwe Looms At United Nations

The stage is set for another showdown at the United Nations over Zimbabwe with China and Russia seen likely to frustrate the desire of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other Western leaders to put the Southern African crisis on the Security Council agenda.

European diplomatic sources said France and Britain have been lobbying for the crisis to be referred to the Security Council. Mr. Brown said Tuesday that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told him a meeting could be held as early as Monday to discuss the situation.

Western frustration with - and outrage at - the Mugabe government has mounted with the outbreak and rapid spread of cholera in Zimbabwe, claiming nearly 800 lives to date. The epidemic has brought high-level calls for Mr. Mugabe to step down or be removed.

Abductions of opposition members and human rights activists - including Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko on Dec. 3 - have also galvanized world opinion.

But the Western nations looking to ratchet up pressure on Mr. Mugabe must reckon with the vetoes wielded China and Russia which have blocked previous attempts to put Zimbabwe on the Council agenda. China says power-sharing talks in Harare should be pursued.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who with other members of the so-called Elders were barred from conducting a humanitarian assessment in Zimbabwe last month, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe in an interview this week that hepersonally referred the abduction of human rights monitor Jestina Mukoko to the United Nations.

But political analyst Chris Mhike of Harare said President Mugabe’s friends on the Security Council are likely to scuttle any attempt to formally censure Harare.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...