President Bush Calls Zimbabwe Vote a 'Sham'

President Bush Wednesday joined the chorus of international criticism of the regime of Robert Mugabe. Bush condemned Mugabe for carrying out a campaign of violence against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters.

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PESCA: Four times, the name of the show. So we'll talk a little bit about that. But you know, I heard - I was listening to the newscast just awhile ago and I heard the governor of California talk about something, a bad problem in his state and here's what he said.

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Governor ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (Republican, California): I know that the people that are selling all this stuff are going to go crazy now when I say that. But don't buy any of the fireworks. Don't go out and do fireworks this year.

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PESCA: Look, all I know is that everything else being equal, just always elect the guy that you can do a good impression of. He's so much fun. I agree with the guy, but can't you just see him going on this long rip?

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President GEORGE W. BUSH: The people of Zimbabwe deserve better.

PESCA: President Bush yesterday, adding to the international pressure on Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, to postpone his country's presidential runoff election.

MARTIN: The president called tomorrow's scheduled election a "sham," and criticized Mugabe for carrying out a campaign of violence against supporters of opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

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Pres. BUSH: You can't have free elections if a candidate is not allowed to campaign freely and his supporters aren't allowed to campaign without fear of intimidation. The Mugabe government has been intimidating the people on the ground in Zimbabwe, and this is an incredibly sad development.

PESCA: Speaking today in Japan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice echoed an ultimatum laid out by many world leaders. If Mugabe accepts Tsvangirai's offer to discuss a power-sharing agreement before tomorrow's elections, there is hope. If Mugabe proceeds with the election and declares victory, no legitimate government is possible.

MARTIN: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he'd push for new European Union sanctions against Mugabe's government. Addressing Parliament yesterday, Brown said Britain will support African leaders who stand up to the regime.

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Prime Minister GORDON BROWN (Great Britain): We will stand alongside African leaders who do not accept the legitimacy of the election and who do not accept the legitimacy of the regime and the criminal cabal surrounding President Mugabe.

PESCA: Some of those leaders met yesterday in Swaziland and called for Mugabe to postpone the runoff and to negotiate with the opposition party.

MARTIN: But some say action from African countries has been too slow in coming. U.S. presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, signaled out one nation, saying it needs to do more.

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Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois): In particular, other African nations, including South Africa, I think, have to be much more forceful in condemning the extraordinary violence that has been taking place there. And frankly, they have been quiet for far too long.

PESCA: And for its part, South Africa yesterday said it has sent a top negotiator to Harare to talk through the government's options, including calling off the election.

MARTIN: Speaking separately in London, former South African President Nelson Mandela spoke out on the crisis for the first time, delivering a short but pointed rebuke.

(Soundbite of speech)

Former President NELSON MANDELA (South Africa): We had seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighboring Zimbabwe.

PESCA: Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's opposition leader is disavowing the commentary that appeared under his name, calling for U.N. peacekeepers in the country. Morgan Tsvangirai says he didn't write the essay that appeared in yesterday's edition of the British newspaper the Guardian. An aide says the party is trying to figure out how the commentary was given under Tsvangirai's name.

MARTIN: You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on this story. Now let's get more of the day's news headlines with the BPP's Matt Martinez.

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