Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Zimbabwe needs to be united : Africa

African leaders have urged Zimbabwe's leadership and opposition to form a national unity government, following last week's disputed election. The call was made at an African Union summit, which also saw strong criticism of Zimbabwe by Botswana. President Robert Mugabe won the presidential election run-off. It was boycotted by the opposition, which cited widespread violence. Both sides have so far ruled out forming a power-sharing government. Delegates at the AU summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt said a resolution calling for a government of national unity in Zimbabwe had been approved to resolve the crisis. However, briefing reporters earlier, Mr Mugabe's spokesman was asked whether Zimbabwe should follow Kenya's example and create such a government.

Mr Tsvangirai was arrested several times ahead of the run-off "Kenya is Kenya. Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe," George Charamba responded. "We have our own history of evolving dialogue and resolving political impasses the Zimbabwean way. The Zimbabwean way, not the Kenyan way. Not at all." Mr Charamba also said the West had no basis to speak about the situation - and could "go hang a thousand times".

Meanwhile the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said Friday's one-man election had killed off any prospect of a negotiated settlement. Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary-general who faces treason charges in Zimbabwe, said the country's "sham election" last week "totally and completely exterminated any prospect of a negotiated settlement". One of them grabbed my arm and flung me to the ground... They dragged me by my hair to where my husband was lying.

He denied any negotiations were going on between the two parties, or that an agreement was in the offing. African leaders have faced growing pressure to take a stand against Zimbabwe's president. At the meeting the vice-president of Botswana strongly condemned Mr Mugabe over the run-off - from which the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew. Mompati Merfahe said the vote "did not reflect the unfettered will of the people" and Zimbabwe should be excluded from African Union and regional talks. Sierra Leonean President Ernest Koroma told the BBC that the people of Zimbabwe had "been denied their democratic rights". But Africa's longest-serving leader, Gabon President Omar Bongo, said Mr Mugabe should be accepted as the country's elected president.

The US has outlined a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe and Italy has recalled its ambassador to the country for consultations. In Zimbabwe, meanwhile, an elderly farmer, his wife and their son-in-law were found alive but badly beaten on Monday. Mike Campbell, 75, his wife Angela, 66 and Ben Freeth had been kidnapped at gunpoint from their Harare farm by a heavily armed mob on Sunday. Mrs Campbell said a mob of Zanu-PF supporters had attacked her with sticks, just as Mr Mugabe was being re-inaugurated as Zimbabwe's president. "One of them grabbed my arm and flung me to the ground, hence I have a rather serious break in my upper arm," she said. A friend of the family said the Campbells had been forced to sign a document withdrawing an appeal against the seizure of his farm.

Mr Tsvangirai defeated Mr Mugabe in the presidential vote on 29 March but failed to win an absolute majority. He reluctantly agreed to participate in the 27 June run-off but withdrew blaming violence which he said had killed nearly 90 of his followers.

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