African Union recommends national unity government for ZimbabweJuly 2nd, 2008 - 4:37 am ICT by IANS
Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt), July 2 (DPA) The African Union (AU) recommended Tuesday creating a government of national unity for Zimbabwe and recommended regional mediation efforts to continue during the AU summit here. The two-day summit, which wrapped up Tuesday, produced a resolution that calls for encouraging both sides in Zimbabwe to start a dialogue to promote peace and stability, the AU resolution said.
The resolution also stated that mediation efforts by the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) should continue.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who was at the centre of controversy over his disputed re-election, has challenged calls for his ouster, with his spokesman at the African Union summit saying that the West could “hang a thousand times.”
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the presidential spokesman, George Charamba, said the West had no “basis, no claim on Zimbabwean politics at all.”
“They can go hang a thousand times,” Charamba said.
The octogenarian Mugabe, 84, has claimed victory against opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai in the election that was marred by widespread violence and condemned as unfair by African monitors.
His spokesman rejected calls for Mugabe to step down as part of a settlement to the simmering crisis.
“With only five days in office, you expect him to retire?” Charmaba said in reference to the time since Mugabe won the run-off election.
He also dismissed a South African initiative for the formation of a transitional government of national unity in Zimbabwe as happened in Kenya earlier this year after a disputed election and subsequent violence.
“Kenya is Kenya. Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe. We have our own history of evolving dialogue resolving political impasses the Zimbabwean way. The Zimbabwean way, not the Kenya way. Not at all,” the spokesman said.
Those remarks prompted Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change to toughen its stance, saying Mugabe’s one-man election on June 27 had killed any chance of a negotiated agreement.
“The sham and cataleptic election on 27 June 2008 totally and completely exterminated any prospects of a negotiated settlement,” MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said in a statement, contrasting with remarks Monday by the party that it was “committed” to talks.
Mugabe had been reportedly hassled by journalists on his arrival at a conference hall where the summit being held. A British reporter accused Mugabe of “stealing elections” in Zimbabwe, according to correspondents on the scene.
“When will the British stop colonizing us? I am the president whether you like it or not,” Mugabe was quoted as telling the reporter.
The British journalist was reportedly assaulted by Mugabe’s guards.
African leaders, who have been holding a closed meeting to seek consensus over the crisis, are cautious on the Zimbabwe issue, but some have not shied away from direct condemnation and going as far as calling for sanctions.
Sierra-Leone President Ernest Koroma urged African leaders to condemn Mugabe when they conclude the summit Tuesday.
Koroma supports the South African initiative.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga was even more forthcoming when he called for the African Union to suspend Mugabe until he allows free elections.
The government of Botswana criticized President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, saying his re-election did not “reflect the unfettered will of the people.”
Botswana Vice-President Mompati Merfahe said Zimbabwe should be excluded from the African Union and regional talks, broadcaster BBC reported.
However, the bulk of African leaders adopted a cautious approach and rejected calls for sanctions.
Gabon President Omar Bongo has expressed support for Mugabe, saying he should be accepted as Zimbabwe’s elected leader.
Meanwhile, the AU summit has not endorsed the Libyan proposed African Union government and postponed the decision to the coming summit to be held next January in Addis Ababa, said the spokesman of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
Hossam Zaki also said that other topics like world food crisis and human trafficking.
Tags: african initiative, democratic change, disputed election, dpa, el sheikh, mediation efforts, morgan tsvangirai, national unity government, octogenarian, opposition candidate, opposition movement, ouster, peace and stability, president robert mugabe, presidential spokesman, robert mugabe, sadc, transitional government, union summit, zimbabwean president robert mugabe