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HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe rebuffed a proposal by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to send a UN envoy to the country, saying that "anything that smells of American and British influence will not be acceptable to us," Zimbabwe's Herald newspaper reported yesterday.
Speaking after a meeting with Mugabe on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN summit on hunger in Rome, Ban said he would send a special envoy to Zimbabwe to discuss ways the UN could support a fair presidential run-off election on June 27. Ban said he would send Haile Menkerios of Eritrea to Zimbabwe with Mugabe's approval, a spokesman confirmed in New York.
Mugabe faces opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the run-off that was called for after neither candidate won an outright majority in the first round of voting on March 29.
The MDC has called for the run-off to be opened up to scrutiny by Western and UN observers but the government has barred observers and journalists from "unfriendly" nations.
The Herald said Mugabe told Ban he took "great exception to the use of the UN secretary-general by Britain and the US to further their interest" and that he would only support the UN giving technical assistance to the non-Western observers. It said Mugabe told Ban that his comments on Zimbabwe "completely ignored the fact that Zimbabwe was bleeding under illegal sanctions" imposed by Britain, the US and the EU.
"Mr Secretary-General, don't be used by them. I plead, I plead, I plead. We want you, we respect you, we chose you," Mugabe was quoted by the Herald as telling Ban. - Sapa-DPA