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South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday condemned Pretoria's decision to oppose a request for a UN Security Council debate on the economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe.
DA leader Tony Leon, in a statement described the move as another example of South Africa "bending over backwards to defend (President) Robert Mugabe's increasingly tyrannical rule."
South Africa is the current rotating President of the Security Council and Dumisani Khumalo, Pretoria's envoy to the UN, has opposed the request by Britain's ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, for a "humanitarian briefing" of the Council following widely reported Zimbabwe police assault on opposition leaders including Morgan Tsvangirai, and the deepening economic and political crisis in the country.
DA quoted Khumalo, as saying the unrest in Zimbabwe did not constitute a threat to international peace and security and therefore could not make the Security Council agenda.
"Apart from the extraordinary irony that this reasoning was often the excuse used to block UNSC debates on Apartheid South Africa, it is also a fundamental misreading of the extent of the crisis in Zimbabwe," Leon charged.
He said South Africa, as the leading nation in the region, had a moral responsibility to tell Harare that its "brutal intolerance of legitimate opposition will no longer be accepted."
"By shielding President Mugabe from international scrutiny, Pretoria has become complicit in suppression of democratic freedoms in Zimbabwe," the DA leader said, warning that deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe could negatively affect the southern African region.
"Our window of opportunity is fast closing, as Britain will next month assume the UNSC chairpersonship. If they put Zimbabwe on the agenda when we opposed such a move, our moral high ground will be lost completely," he added. 19 March 2007 - PANA