Monday, July 07, 2008

African leaders call for dialogue

from pbs:

RAY SUAREZ: It took two days of meetings before the African Union adopted a resolution calling for Zimbabwe to form a government of national unity.

Throughout this summit, Robert Mugabe remained defiant, standing by the results of a run-off much of the international community labeled a sham. Earlier today, his spokesperson told the world to stay out of Zimbabwe's affairs.

GEORGE CHARAMBA, Spokesman for President Mugabe: They can go and hang. They can go and hang a thousand times. They have no basis, they have no claim on Zimbabwean politics at all and that is exactly the issue.

RAY SUAREZ: Mugabe ended up running uncontested last Friday. The major opposition party, the MDC, withdrew. Its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said he couldn't continue to run in an environment in which his supporters were beaten up, arrested, and killed by Mugabe allies.

Sunday, Mugabe again took the presidential oath.

RAY SUAREZ: Why won't African leaders publicly pressure Robert Mugabe to leave office?

AKWE AMOSU: Well, I think that several members of that heads of state assembly who are themselves no paragons of virtue when it comes to democracy. There are members of that community that have been in power for 40 years. They probably see elections pretty much as a rubber stamp and are not highly motivated to see change in Zimbabwe.

But I think, while I really agree with what Briggs has said about the deficit in the A.U. position, I think one thing it is important to say is that you've seen for the first time in my recollection open dispute between members of the A.U., including countries like Botswana, like Sierra Leone, like Benin, like Kenya, Senegal, coming out and saying quite publicly this man should not be sitting in our hall, he should not be accredited as a member of this heads of state assembly, and that he should not go on being a member of the government of Zimbabwe.

And I think that's really quite unprecedented in African politics. And much as I would have liked to see stronger action today, I think we should acknowledge that there is change happening.

RAY SUAREZ: Well, the word "unprecedented" was used. Hasn't there been a long tradition in post-colonial Africa of not publicly calling across countries' borders for change inside fellow African states?

BRIGGS BOMBA: There certainly has been. If you look at the guiding strategy of the A.U., it's really quiet, behind-the-scene intervention. There's an over-emphasis on respecting national sovereignty and a lack of readiness to interfere in what is seen as internal conflicts.

So I think we have seen the A.U., you know, adopting a hands-off approach. But we have the case of Mauritania, where the A.U. withdrew the membership of Mauritania following a coup there.

So there's been that action taken place, but for, by and large, we look at cases like Ethiopia, where you know you had the sham election, you had thousands of activists arrested, some of them for two years, but the A.U. did not come out saying anything.

You look at Nigeria, where we had the same situation, as well, and the A.U. did not take a decisive step. And I think it's because of this history that the A.U. is limited, you know, on the extent of what they can do today when they're facing the question in Zimbabwe....

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