Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Mon, 08 Dec 2008 21:12:00 +0000
THE KENYAN Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula attacked that country’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga over his call for African Union troops to be sent to Zimbabwe to forcibly remove the Government of President Mugabe.
Wetangula told a news conference in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi that Odinga’s calls to the African Union to deploy peace keepers was ‘uncalled for’, saying Zimbabwe was not under invasion or armed rebellion.
He said Kenya would respect the position of the African Union that commissioned Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to negotiate the matter.
He also said that AU statutes have no provision for intervention in sovereign states, adding that the AU did not have the mandate or its own reserve of troops for such intervention and would need to ask member states to “donate” troops.
Troops, he said, can only be deployed by willing states and not the AU.
“The constitute Act of the African Union does not allow a country to be invaded unless there is a rebellion which is not the case in Zimbabwe. Secondly, the AU has no troops to send anywhere. It can only request countries to contribute and I don’t believe that is the way to go,” he said.
Article 4 (Principles) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union - Organization of African Unity adopted in Lome in 2000, says the AU shall function in accordance with the principles of "sovereign equality and interdependence among Member States of the Union","prohibition of the use of force or threat to use force among Member States of the Union" and "non-interference by any member States", among other principles.
Odinga's call for sending AU troops to Zimbabwe, therefore is unthinkable. The capacity of the AU is currently exhausted due to its involvements in Darfur and Somalia. It will be unrealistic to expect it to add Zimbabwe on its plate.
Wetangula also criticized the West for imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe and said that those sanctions only hurt civilians who are not in any way linked to the Government.
“If you impose sanctions in Zimbabwe today, President Mugabe will not miss a meal. It is the ordinary man who will be suffering. The AU must decide a better way of dealing with the crisis,” he insisted adding that Sadc had been mandated to be the official interface of the crisis by the AU.
He added that similar tactics against the Boers of South Africa failed and innocent people bore the brunt.
He said the ouster of former South African president, Thabo Mbeki was a major blow to the Zimbabwean peace process and urged the MDC party and Zanu PF to come to an agreement about power-sharing.
"We appeal to President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to see reason and come to an agreement to save the people of Zimbabwe from further suffering," he said.
CONGO TALKS OPEN IN KENYA
Meanwhile crucial talks on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have opened up at the UN headquarters in Kenya and being chaired by President Mwai Kibaki.
Wetangula told the delegations at the outset of the talks that he hoped both sides would be able "to put aside your differences and realize that you have only one Congo, and that the international community is here with you to encourage and assist you."
"Please don't let Africa and your country down," he added.
As the talks opened, the Chinese embassy in Kinshasa said Beijing was offering to help help mediate peace in the troubled eastern region.
Report by Itayi Garande
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