16 June 2008

Zimbabwe: Tutu Lashes Out At Mbeki for 'Quiet Diplomacy' Policy

Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has lashed out at South African President Thabo Mbeki, accusing him of being obviously reluctant to quell the situation in Zimbabwe.

Tutu was speaking during an interview with news service, Al Jazeera on Sunday. He said Zimbabweans "are not happy with the way Mbeki has handled the crisis," and that Mbeki, "chose to remain silent even when Zimbabwe's crisis was at fever pitch".

Mbeki has been widely criticised for his on-going policy of 'quiet diplomacy,' as well as his apparent support for Robert Mugabe. The South African president has also in the past actively distanced himself from the crisis, and only publicly condemned ongoing violence there for the first time last week.

In Sunday's interview, Tutu said Mbeki could have used his power as the current mediator of the crisis by warning Mugabe against dictatorial acts. The elderly but much respected laureate said he will ask former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to mediate the same way he conducted mediation during the Kenyan post-election violence.

Tutu said Annan is trusted better than anyone else in the world to fill the role as mediator because of his efforts on Kenya and, "the world can trust him to do the same in Zimbabwe".

He said it was unlikely that Mugabe will win the election run off on June 27th if the poll is not rigged. But he said it is highly unlikely that the election will be free and fair as Mugabe has threatened to stage a war if he loses.

Tutu added that Mugabe "should consider a dignified exit from power," and that his retirement will save many people a great deal of suffering.

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