Saturday, March 24, 2012

(HERALD) Zim minister in coup crossfire

Zim minister in coup crossfire
Saturday, 24 March 2012 00:00
Sydney Kawadza Assistant News Editor

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and his two-man delegation have been caught in the political upheaval in Bamako, Mali, following a military coup in the West African country.

The minister and his delegation cannot fly out because the mutineers have closed the airport and sealed borders. Minister Mumbengegwi was attending an African Union Peace and Security meeting on the Sahel region.

The region has been experiencing political and security disturbances, he-nce the meeting.

Zimbabwe is a member of the AU Peace and Security committee.

Countries in that region include Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity Mr George Charamba yesterday confirmed the Zimbabwean delegation was stranded, but safe.

“The minister touched base and indicated that they are safe. The delegation cannot travel out of Mali as authorities have sealed the borders and closed the airport.”
Mr Charamba said Minister Mumbengegwi and his delegation, who were expected back home yesterday, will be back next week.

“The situation is expected to become normal in the coming days and we ex-pect Minister Mumbengegwi to arrive back home early next week,” he said.

A Malian junta announced on Thur-sday the closure of the country’s borders, claiming to have seized power from President Amadou Toumani Toure. The coup came just a month before President Toure was due to step down ahead of April elections after serving two presidential terms.

He was not a candidate.

Under his leadership, Mali — which has battled successive Tuareg rebellions since independence and more recently Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb activities — has since been hailed as a growing democracy in the region.

African countries have condemned the coup.

The African Union Commission chief Jean Ping urged “the mutineers immediately to put an end” to the country’s first coup in 21 years.



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