THE forthright statement made yesterday about Zimbabwe by the leaders of the G8 nations meeting in Japan was a vitally important prelude to a UN Security Council resolution on financial sanctions against Mugabe's regime which may now be passed by the end of this week. Only China's vote is uncertain since it is not a member of the G8. On previous form, and taking into account both China's widespread economic interests in Africa and the impending Beijing Olympics, abstention might be the course it chooses to take; a veto is surely unthinkable in all the circumstances. The G8 initiative breaks through efforts still being made by Mugabe and President Mbeki of South Africa to pretend that other courses to a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis are still open. By asking the UN Secretary General to appoint a special envoy to report to him on the political, humanitarian, human rights and security situation in Zimbabwe the G8 have effectively told the African Union and Thabo Mbeki that they no longer have confidence in their mediating roles. In the longer term proposals for some form of UN peacekeeping or monitoring presence in Zimbabwe may emerge. The G8 statement says everything that Gordon Brown has asked for in prior negotiations. His decision to use photographs of a tortured opposition leader to bring home the horror of Mugabe's methods was risky but it paid off and probably persuaded Russia and Italy to create the consensus which can now be used to considerable political effect.
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