Canada condemns Zimbabwe's 'illegal' election, imposes sanctions
Canada is condemning Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government as "illegitimate and illegal" and is imposing sanctions following the country's widely discredited election.
Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson announced the sanctions hours after the longtime ruler was sworn in during a ceremony Sunday, two days after the one-candidate, presidential run-off election.
"You cannot carry on and abuse democracy in a way that was done in this particular run-off and do it with impunity," the minister said Sunday.
He said the federal government rejects the results of Friday's election. Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission said Mugabe, the sole candidate, won the race with 85.5 per cent of the vote.
Mugabe's only rival, Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, withdrew from the race days earlier citing violence and intimidation during the campaign.
The following sanctions will immediately take effect:
- Restricting travel, work and study of senior members of Zimbabwe's government within Canada.
- Banning Zimbabwe-registered aircraft from landing in or flying over Canada.
- Summoning the ambassador of Zimbabwe to Canada to convey Canada's position.
The government is also encouraging the few Canadian companies that do business with Zimbabwe to voluntarily stop.
"Even if we had an economic engagement there, we still shouldn't be dealing with a regime like Mugabe's as business as usual," said Paul Heinbecker, director of the Laurier Centre for Global Relations.
Heinbecker, Canada's former ambassador to the United Nations, was involved in bringing about sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa.
He notes that sanctions take time, but Canada is in a position to make a difference in the Zimbabwe political crisis.
"Because of its history in South Africa, it is uniquely placed to be a leader on this subject," he said, but added that the best way to place pressure on Mugabe is through other African leaders.
Mugabe is in Egypt for a two-day summit of African leaders beginning Monday, where he is expected to face heat over the discredited election.
Zimbabwe's government called a second round of voting after the opposition leader won more votes than Mugabe in the March 29 election but failed to secure an outright majority.
Mugabe, 84, was lauded early in his nearly three-decade-long rule, but in recent years has been accused of ruining the economy and holding on to power through fraud and intimidation.