Britain was so desperate to get the United Nations or the United States to condemn Zimbabwe’s March 2008 election results that it even tried to use former South African President Nelson Mandela to condemn them when he visited London for his 90th birthday celebrations, a cable released by Wikileaks says.
The cable, dispatched four days before the presidential elections re-run, says Britain’s Zimbabwe desk officer Ben Llewelyn-Jones acknowledged that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was going to meet Mandela but the British government would weigh very carefully whether such an approach to Mandela would be effective.
The cable said there had already been a lot of press speculation that UK officials might press Mandela to make a public statement condemning events in Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front had lost to Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change in the March general elections but Tsvangirai had not garnered enough votes for an outright win necessitating a second round.
ZANU-PF had, however, unleashed a wave of violence that led Tsvangirai to pull out leaving Mugabe unopposed but the government had decided to go ahead with the elections with Tsvangirai’s name still on the ballot papers.
Llewelyn Jones and his colleague Jason Moore told United States embassy officials on 23 June 2008 that the British government had two “red lines” for any United Nations statement on Zimbabwe:
That the statement would emphasise that the Mugabe regime was no longer legitimate, since the will of the people of Zimbabwe was last expressed at the May 29 (sic) elections, which were won by the Movement for democratic Change; and
That there could not be a continuation of the status quo.
The British government was to request United States assistance with South African President Thabo Mbeki to achieve as strong a statement as possible.
UK RED LINES ON UN ACTION ON ZIMBABWE, POSSIBLE STATEMENT BY NELSON MANDELA
Ref ID: 08LONDON1678
Date: 6/23/2008 17:55
Origin: Embassy London
Header: VZCZCXRO1314PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN RUEHTRODE RUEHLO #1678 1751755ZNY CCCCC ZZHP 231755Z JUN 08FM AMEMBASSY LONDONTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9001INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITYRUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITYRUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 2721RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE PRIORITY 0163RUEHOU/AMEMBASSY OUAGADOUGOU PRIORITY 0095RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0167RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 3233RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 3714RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE PRIORITY 0061RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB PRIORITY 0187RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1214
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 001678 SIPDIS STATE FOR IO/UNP AND AF/S E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/23/2018 TAGS: PREL, PHUM, KDEM, UNSC, ZI, UK SUBJECT: UK RED LINES ON UN ACTION ON ZIMBABWE, POSSIBLE STATEMENT BY NELSON MANDELA REF: A. STATE 66915 B. LONDON-IO/UNP EMAILS C. TELCONS Classified By: Acting PolCouns Leslie Tsou, reasons 1.4 b, d
1. (C) HMG has the following red lines for any UN statement on Zimbabwe, FCO Zimbabwe Desk Officers Ben Llewellyn-Jones and Jason Moore told us June 23 in response to Ref A:
— the statement must emphasize that the Mugabe regime is no longer legitimate, since the will of the people of Zimbabwe was last expressed at the May 29 elections, which were won by the Movement for Democratic Change; and
— there cannot be a continuation of the status quo.
2. (C) The UK requests U.S. assistance with South African President Thao Mbeki to achieve as strong a statement as possible, Moore said.
3. (C) Concerning press speculation that UK officials might press Nelson Mandela, who arrived in London June 23 for a week of celebrations for his 90th birthday, to make a public statement condemning events in Zimbabwe, Llewellyn-Jones acknowledged PM Gordon Brown will meet with Mandela but said that HMG is weighing very carefully whether such an approach to Mandela would be effective. Visit London’s Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TUTTLE