19 June 2008

Zimbabwe: Kenya Comes Out Strong On Mugabe

Nairobi — Kenya has asked Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to respect the wishes of his people by ensuring next week's presidential run-off is free and fair.

In a clear departure from Kenya's long held policy of non-interference in other nation's affairs, a Government statement signed by the Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangu'la said recent developments in Zimbabwe were "unacceptable to all people in Africa".

"As a nation, we therefore call upon President Mugabe to respect the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe. Having accepted a re-run, President Mugabe should ensure it is within the tenets of acceptable standards of elections and democratic practice. Anything less is an affront to the evolving democratic culture in Africa," said Mr Wetangu'la.

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga has taken a similar stance over the last two weeks. Speaking at the recent World Economic Forum-Africa held in South Africa and during his current visit to the US, Mr Odinga has criticised Mr Mugabe's handling of the presidential run-off and described the situation in Zimbabwe as an "an eyesore for the African continent".

Mr Odinga repeated the criticism on Wednesday when he met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington DC where he asked the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe in the same way it did in Bosnia.

The official Government statement said: "We note with concern information from Zimbabwe on the roadblocks being created to the re-run campaigns of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Party. These kind of activities are unhelpful and undermine the very enterprise of election the parties have agreed to.

"We therefore call upon all parties, in particular President Mugabe, to adhere to the Harare Principles that have guided democratic development within the larger Commonwealth," Mr Wetangu'la said.

The Foreign Affairs minister said Kenya's position was informed by its long standing policy on political processes with other states, particularly in Africa: "This position is guided by our foreign policy goal on internal affairs of states and as enshrined in the African Union Charter, espoused at the 10th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, held in Addis Ababa from 31 January to 2 February 2008 which aptly recognised challenges of elections in Africa."

He said Kenya also subscribes to the AU position mandating the regional bloc - Southern Africa Development Community - to lead the African process in Zimbabwe.

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