Wednesday, December 10, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) AU rejects call for troops in Zimbabwe

AU rejects call for troops in Zimbabwe
Ranganai Chidemo
Wed, 10 Dec 2008 03:30:00 +0000
Salva Rweyemam

THE African Union has dismissed as "not logical" calls by the Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga and activist Archbishops, Desmond Tutu and John Sentamu, to send troops to Zimbabwe to topple President Robert Mugabe. The current chairman of the regional grouping, President Kikwete of Tanzania, issued a statement Tuesday saying military intervention in Zimbabwe was not an option.

He made it clear that the AU did not back calls for tougher action on Zimbabwe, saying only dialogue could solve the country's problems. The statement, issued through his spokesman, Salva Rweyemamu, read:

"We have a serious humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. We have cholera. Do they (those leaders calling for military intervention) think that we can eradicate cholera with guns?"

"Only dialogue between the Zimbabwean parties, supported by the AU and other regional actors, can restore peace and stability to that country," added Rweyemamu.

Rweyemamu said the AU was unrelenting in its efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to the Zimbabwean crisis.

In a separate interview with VOA, Rweyemamu reiterated President Kikwete’s sentiments that dialogue was the only option.

“The position of the AU and that of Tanzania has always been consistent,” he added. “And this position was basically articulated in the ….. sheik summit which said the process in Zimbabwe is an AU process, but it will basically be handed over to Sadc and President Mbeki will be the negotiator in the process.”

“The AU does not mention force in its determination. What was decided was that Au should encourage dialogue in Zimbabwe and that remains the situation now.”

Quizzed on claims by political commentators that the AU and Sadc had failed to resolve the situation in Zimbabwe, the spokesman said: “The signing of an MoU between the main political parties was a result of the AU, Sadc effort, and the effort by President Thabo Mbeki.”

He added that the parties to the power-sharing negotiations should now look for a way to make that agreement operational.

Rweyemamu said it was “unfair” to criticize African leaders for all the efforts that have been going on in the region.

Commenting on the “impatience” of Kenya and Botswana whose leaders have in the past few days called for the ouster of President Mugabe through force, he said: “Well these are political processes and such processes take a long time.”

“I don’t think that the use of force in Zimbabwe will solve the problems of Zimbabwe overnight, for instance, right now the most critical issue in Zimbabwe is the humanitarian crisis which has been caused by cholera. I think we should be concentrating on that.”

He said that those countries (Kenya and Botswana) could make their own decisions outside the framework of the AU, Sadc, but invasion is not the most logical solution at this point.

“In that context, Tanzania is sending a big consignment of medicines to solve that (Cholera) problem,” he added.

ZIMBABWE ON HIGH ALERT

Meanwhile the Zimbabwean government has indicated that its troops were on high alert.

The Minister of Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, said "The Zimbabwe Government is taking serious measures to offset any threats, any further sanctions on our people. Any interference shall not be tolerated.”

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