Monday, December 10, 2007

Mugabe stokes diplomatic war

From Institute for war and peace reporting:

President Robert Mugabe this week upped the stakes in his diplomatic war with the United States and Britain after he declared in a televised national address that only “friendly and objective members of the international community” would be invited to observe the country’s harmonised presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March next year.....

Mugabe also appeared to have been angered by remarks attributed to the new US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, that the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act limiting the US’s dealings with the southern African nation mainly to humanitarian assistance would not be scrapped even if Mugabe won “free and fair elections”.

McGee said last week, “United States policy on Zimbabwe is not about free and fair elections alone. That is only one of the principles outlined in the law. There is a need to address all the principles before the law can be repealed, such as human rights and the restoration of the rule of law.”

In what analysts said was a rebuke of the US ambassador, Mugabe this week said as Zimbabwe heads towards harmonised elections in 2008 “let the message ring clearly to our detractors that as a sovereign nation we will not brook any interference in our domestic affairs. We will hold our elections guided by our constitution and laws as we have always done”.

He added, “As is our tradition, we will invite friendly nations and objective members of the international community to observe the elections. Those of our people who wish to go about campaigning should do so in atmosphere of peace and shun activities that may leave behind a bitter aftertaste. Government has at its disposal the means to deal firmly with anyone seeking to engage in acts of violence.”

A political analyst in Harare said it was difficult to trust Mugabe, given the electoral violence that characterised past elections. But he added that those calling for free and fair elections were opening themselves up to attacks of hypocrisy in raising issues that are not raised in other countries in the region where the electoral process is overtly flawed and violence is endemic, such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo....

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