8 May 2008

Zimbabwe: African Union Shelves Country Discussion

THE African Union Executive Council yesterday shelved discussion on the situation in Zimbabwe because a report they received did not have comments from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.

The chairman of the 11th extraordinary session of the AU body, Bernard Membe, told reporters in Arusha: "We didn't deliberate on the issue of Zimbabwe because the report of the Chairperson of AU Commission, Jean Ping, missed comments from the opposition," Membe said.

Ping was in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe to gather information on the situation in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the 29th March elections.

According to Membe, Ping failed to secure meetings with the MDC leaders who are currently outside the country.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president, is currently in Botswana but is said to have indicated that he will be returning home this week. The Secretary General, Tendai Biti is said to be in South Africa.

In his brief report, Ping said as far as the Zimbabwe electoral law was concerned, election re-run was unavoidable.

"In this respect, the AU urges the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure that the re-run is undertaken as provided for in the electoral law," Ping told the extraordinary AU Executive Council in Arusha yesterday.

In the run-up to the second round of the presidential poll, the AU re-emphasizes the need for Zimbabwe to implement conditions set out in the declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, he said.

Ping further said that the agreement reached and the conditions prevailing prior to the 29 March polls should be upheld.

He appealed to the Zimbabwean political actors to conduct their activities in a free, transparent, tolerant and non-violent manner so as to enable eligible Zimbabweans exercise their democratic rights.

The AU Executive Council meeting has been convened to chart out strategies on how to strengthen the union and its organs, a measure aimed at ensuring that the continent was politically and economically integrated.

The meeting started with the tabling of an evaluation report on AU strength and weaknesses by the chairman of a High Level Panel, Prof. Adebayo Adedeji.

The AU has instituted an audit of its institutions as debate mounts on the appropriate form of a proposed union government, according to a report by Regional Economic Development and Integration.

The report said AU had decided to finalize the audit before it can conclude the debate on the formation of a continental government.

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