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Kenya advocates AU sanctions on Zimbabwe

NAIROBI, June 25 – Kenya is pushing for an immediate imposition of sanctions against President Robert Mugabe’s government in Zimbabwe.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, who will on Thursday attend a three day African Union meeting in Egypt, said immediate measures should be taken against Mugabe and those responsible for the current wave of violence in Zimbabwe.

Wetangula said; "The AU under its constitutive act has clauses that can deal with situations such as Zimbabwe. They can exclude them from participating in AU activities or they can intervene in Zimbabwe."

Wetangula spoke at a civil society forum in Nairobi on Wednesday, where Prime Minister (PM) Raila Odinga said the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) should also be pushed to take a firmer stand on Zimbabwe.

Raila said he had talked to Tanzanian President and AU Chairman Jakaya Kikwete ahead of a SADC meeting in Swaziland on Wednesday.

"I told him that they need to take a firm stand in the SADC meeting and pass strong resolutions," said the PM.

If AU and SADC impose sanctions on Zimbabwe they would be following the European Union (EU) who have already imposed several sanctions on the country.

The EU sanctions include an arms embargo, travel bans on certain officials and a freezing of their assets.

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Mugabe and more than a hundred ministers and officials are included in the travel bans and freezing of assets.

EU officials accuse them of human rights violations and violations of freedom of speech and assembly in Zimbabwe. 

Raila and Wetangula spoke barely hours before Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged the AU to categorically intervene and come up with concrete steps to solve the crisis in the southern African country.

"The time for action is now the people and the country can wait no longer. We need to show leadership in Africa," Tsvangirai stated.

Kenya is also urging Zimbabwe’s election authorities to postpone Friday’s presidential run-off in order to allow for the establishment of conditions suitable for free and fair elections.

The PM said; "The elections should not be carried out for various reasons, including the banning and disruption of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) campaign rallies and the constant harassment of their candidate Morgan Tsvangirai."

Similar statements were made on Monday by the Chairman of SADC, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also concurred that Zimbabwe’s presidential run-off election would lack all legitimacy.

His call followed Sunday’s announcement by Tsvangirai that he was quitting the run-off election against President Robert Mugabe.

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At the time the MDC leader accused Mugabe of waging a violent campaign designed to intimidate the opposition and its supporters ahead of the run-off.

Mugabe however blamed the opposition for the violence that has caused widespread international concern.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe, 84, in elections held in March but failed to win the absolute majority required to avoid a run-off, according to official figures.

His decision to pull out of the elections has almost certainly handed victory by default to Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980.

President  Mugabe is fighting to keep power amid a desperate economic crisis that has brought hyperinflation and food shortages and has driven millions of Zimbabweans to seek work abroad.

Despite intense international pressure for the elections to be called off Mugabe has maintained that elections would go on.

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