Raila wants AU heat on Mugabe

November 23, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, November 23 – Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga wants African Union peacekeepers deployed to Zimbabwe in the face of a power-sharing crisis between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Odinga said on Sunday that recent action by President Robert Mugabe’s administration to deny Visas to international mediators is likely to worsen the crisis in the African nation and therefore the need for remedial actions.

“Because there is no legitimate government in Zimbabwe, the AU should consider sending a peacekeeping force. This is what is going to send a strong signal to one Mr Robert Mugabe,” he emphasised.

The Prime Minister, who spoke at the Wilson airport upon arrival from a prayer and thanksgiving meeting in Mombasa, said Mr Mugabe had displayed the highest level of impunity by failing to allow international mediators into Zimbabwe.

Peace champions former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former US President Jimmy Carter were denied entry into Zimbabwe on Saturday ahead of peace talks slated for Harare. Zimbabwe has however denied the claims, saying the meeting had only been postponed because Annan had not notified the government of its timing and programme.

Mr Odinga described the incident as unfortunate: “As you all know, Mugabe was a freedom fighter who spent many years in the jail of former Prime Minister Smith, but I don’t believe that when you are a freedom fighter, you acquire a title deed to own the nation”.

The Premier went on to say that he does not even understand why Mr Mugabe was being allowed to share platforms with African leaders in both regional and international forums.

“Recently he was in Kampala attending an African leaders’ meeting and you will see that no one expressed a word about the situation in Zimbabwe.”

“To many African leaders, the situation in Zimbabwe has returned back to normalcy. But no wonder this is happening, it is because a number of these leaders carry the same baggage like that of Mugabe,” he accused.

Mr Odinga urged African leaders to consider the issue of legitimacy in leadership whenever they look at the situation in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai won the most votes in March’s presidential election but fell short of an outright majority after his Movement for Democratic Change became the largest party in parliament for the first time.

He pulled out of a run-off against Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe non-stop since independence from Britain in 1980, accusing the 84-year-old of orchestrating attacks against his opposition supporters.

 “What is happening in Zimbabwe could not have happened in Europe. Members of the EU could not allow a leader who was not legitimately elected to attend their meeting. It cannot happen. So this is the reason why Africa continues to remain backward,” he hit out for the umpteenth time.

“The people of Zimbabwe are suffering from very high inflation. This issue of power sharing has taken so long. Why should Mugabe be allowed to act with such high level of impunity? The AU should act because the Zimbabweans did speak through the ballot.”

He further accused Mr Mugabe of wanting to continue monopolising power, and in particular instruments of power, which he felt African leaders should stand firm against.

Africa is being cast in very bad light because of this blatant violation of the rights of the people of Zimbabwe.”

“I am urging African leaders to demand that Zimbabwe allows international mediation to take place. There must be real power sharing in Zimbabwe.”

Mugabe and his political foe Tsvangirai have yet to form a unity government, despite several failed attempts by regional leaders to force the implementation of a September 15 accord.


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