MDC supporters seek US refuge

Hundreds gather outside US embassy in Zimbabwe capital seeking food and asylum.

    More than 200 people are appealing for
    assistance outside the US embassy [AFP]

    One 25-year-old from Mbare, a populous township, said he was targeted for being a political agent for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

    "I need to go out of this country, I don't feel safe," he said.

    'House burned'

    One woman said she and her one-year-old daughter had been left homeless by suspected government agents who burned down her home in a rural district east of the capital.

    "About a month ago some people came at night saying my family were MDC supporters and burned our house," she said.

    "We managed to escape in different directions and sleep in the bush but we lost everything. Up to now I don't know where my husband is.

    "I need food and shelter. That is my appeal to anyone who can help."

    Our correspondent said the people were desperate, feared for their lives and could not go home as homes had been destroyed.

    She reported that embassy officials were trying to help the people but they said the Zimbabwean government should be looking after them.

    The US officials also blamed the government for not ending the violence that has displaced the people.

    War veterans, who support President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party, also arrived at the embassy on Thursday.

    The MDC supporters say they are scared
    for their lives [AFP]
    They said that the MDC's claims and those of its supporters were false.

    The veterans have called for MDC supporters' removal from outside the embassy.

    More than 300 opposition supporters sought refuge at the South African embassy in Harare last week.

    They were subsequently taken to a camp outside the capital by government officials.

    Our correspondent said concerns had surfaced as to what would happen to that group as there were reports that some of the people looking after them were the same people who had been burning their homes or beating them up.

    Those seeking refuge in the US embassy are likely to receive a similar fate, she added.

    The MDC won parliamentary elections marred by violence on March 29.

    It subsequently pulled out of a presidential run-off last week, saying 90 of its supporters had been killed in a government campaign of violence and intimidation.

    The US administration has led criticism of Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, calling the run-off election a farce.

    US-backed resolution

    On Thursday the US lodged a protest with the UN over the run-off vote and pushed for a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and over a dozen of his close associates for their roles "in abetting the state-sponsored violence against the opposition, repressing human rights or undermining democracy".

    Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to the UN, introduced a resolution condemning Mugabe's government and containing targeted sanctions including an arms embargo for the security council to vote on next week.

    The US also wants the UN to appoint "an individual of international standing and expertise ... who would support the negotiation process between the political parties in Zimbabwe".

    Diplomatic sources say Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, is being considered for the task.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.