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Bush wants more penalties for Zimbabwe after 'sham' vote

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Election officials at polling stations finish counting and verifying votes
  • NEW: Journalists told to return to election headquarters at 7 a.m. Sunday
  • Bush wants "arms embargo on Zimbabwe and travel ban on regime officials"
  • President Mugabe accused of threatening violent reprisals, forcing people to vote
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(CNN) -- Calling Zimbabwe's runoff presidential election a "sham," U.S. President George W. Bush said Saturday that he would push for additional sanctions against the country's government.

"I am instructing the secretaries of State and Treasury to develop sanctions against this illegitimate government of Zimbabwe and those who support it," Bush said in a statement.

Zimbabwe held a runoff Friday after presidential elections March 29 including opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and longtime President Robert Mugabe failed to yield a clear winner.

The runoff vote was condemned internationally and Mugabe's Zanu-PF party accused of using intimidation and violence to force people, particularly in rural areas, to vote for him.

"We will press for strong action by the United Nations, including an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and travel ban on regime officials," Bush said.

Responding to the threat of further sanctions, Zimbabwean Deputy Minister of Information Bright Matonga said foreign governments needed to "respect" Zimbabwe.

"They should see Zimbabwe as a partner because of what we can offer to the world because of our stability, because of our education, because of our resources, our mineral resources," he said.

"Sanctions or no sanctions, we will not be told what to do by anybody. Britain and the U.S. are like bullies and rapists," he said.

By late Saturday, election officials at polling stations had finished counting and verifying votes, the country's deputy election commissioner.

Utloile Silaigwana, of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, said a national results center was still receiving the results at a national center late Saturday night.

Officials told Zimbabwean journalists waiting at the election center's headquarters for results to return at 7 a.m. local time Sunday.

Accusations of pre-vote murder, intimidation

Tsvangirai, leader of the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change, pulled out of the runoff Tuesday, citing violence and intimidation by Mugabe's supporters. His name, however, remained on ballots.Video Watch as opposition voters show their broken bones, burns from boiling water and plastic »

Matonga said he would not "dignify the charges with comment" and insisted the voting process was mostly peaceful, except for about 10 pollling stations that MDC members and supporters burned down.

The MDC party charged Saturday that four opposition officials and the wife of one of them were beaten to death this week before Friday's runoff in "state-sponsored and -perpetrated murders."

It also charged that a regional Zanu-PF chairman forced rural voters near the town of Karoi in the northern province of Mashonaland West to go to the polling station and vote for Mugabe.

The voters were forced to attend an all-night vigil at the chairman's home the night before the vote and then go to the polls the next day, the MDC said.

Despite calls from the United Nations to put off the runoff, Mugabe went ahead, essentially making it a one-man vote.

Tsvangirai said Friday that authorities were "threatening anyone that doesn't vote or who votes for the MDC with death. ... The militia are warning that tomorrow they will launch Operation Red Finger that will target anyone who has not voted."

Each voter was required to dip a finger in red ink, a tactic used in some nations to ensure that there is no repeat voting, and Zanu-PF supporters warned residents in two townships that their fingers would be checked for the red ink.

Mugabe wanted a high turnout to create a sense of legitimacy for his expected victory.

George Charamba, a Mugabe spokesman, said the vote had been "free and fair."

"I don't think we should put accent on what a politician who is facing a bleak defeat claims is happening to him," Charamba said. "Obviously, it has become very apparent that Morgan Tsvangirai was not going to repeat the fluke victory that he managed in March."

The first secretary at the South African Embassy in Harare, Willem Geerlings, said people fleeing political violence had camped outside the embassy.

But Charamba denied the reports of pressure. Asked about images from Zimbabwe showing what is reported to be violence against members of the opposition, he responded, "it's very, very easy for anyone to stage-manage a demonstration, and a violent one at that."

Sanctions already in place

In 2003, President Bush imposed sanctions on specific individuals and businesses in Zimbabwe, saying members of the government and its supporters were undermining democratic institutions there, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

More than two years later, he expanded the list of sanctions to include immediate family members of Zimbabweans already sanctioned and others who were providing them with financial assistance, the Treasury Department said.

Britain also has financial and travel sanctions against 160 Zimbabweans, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said this week, as he announced that Britain was ready to propose "intensified" sanctions against members of the Zimbabwean regime.

The 14-nation Southern African Development Community appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki last year to be the mediator in Zimbabwe, but he has faced criticism for not taking a stronger position against the violence.


Mbeki said late Friday that he will take his cue from regional leaders on how to deal with Zimbabwe, according to the national South African Press Association.

Mbeki said that he will be guided by the Development Community and by the heads of state meeting for an African Union summit in Egypt on Monday.

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse, Hamilton Wende, Ingrid Formanek and David McKenzie contributed to this report.

All About ZimbabweRobert MugabeMorgan Tsvangirai

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