David Ford said: “This is an issue of massive importance to stability in Africa. I am very glad that we have been able to give MLAs the chance to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe in the Assembly.
“Local politicians must grasp this opportunity and send out the strongest possible message to Robert Mugabe. In recent weeks, Opposition activists have been detained, tortured and in many instances killed. We have also seen aid agencies being expelled. Zimbabwe is on the brink and international authorities need to ensure that this crisis isn’t allowed to deepen.
“A number of African leaders led by President Wade of Senegal yesterday stated that the current violence could make free and fair elections impossible, and today Morgan Tsvangirai even said he might pull out because of the increasing level of intimidation. Government-sponsored human rights abuses are taking place in Zimbabwe on a daily basis. They must end now. There needs to be a free and fair presidential election on 27 June. The voice of the people must be heard, not drowned out by government oppressors.
“Pressure must not only be placed on President Mugabe, but also on the UN to devote more resources to monitoring the election. Their role is crucial and they need to focus their efforts on Zimbabwe in the coming weeks. Next week’s debate in the Assembly provides a great opportunity for more pressure to be applied in relation to this important global issue.”