2 July 2008

Zimbabwe: AU Calls for Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe

Sharm-El-Sheikh — African leaders have voiced their support for the creation of a Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe.

Heads of State, meeting at the AU Summit in Sharm-El-Sheikh, have been seized with discussions over Zimbabwe.

A special meeting was held yesterday, against the backdrop of international pressure on the AU to declare that the election was not a true reflection of the will of the people.

Robert Mugabe, who was the only running candidate, was sworn in as the country's President on Sunday. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off election citing violence against his supporters.

"We encourage President Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to honour their commitment to initiate dialogue with a view to promote peace, stability, democracy and reconciliation in Zimbabwe," the AU said in a statement released late Tuesday, on the resolutions leaders had taken.

The AU said there was a willingness from the political leaders of Zimbabwe to enter into negotiations to establish a Government of National Unity.

The AU leaders voiced their support for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitation efforts and called for a continuation of these efforts in order to assist the people and leadership of Zimbabwe to reach a resolution.

South African President Thabo Mbeki was earlier mandated by SADC to facilitate talks between Mr Mugabe and the opposition party.

"SADC should further establish a mechanism on the ground in order to seize the momentum for a negotiated solution," the AU said.

In the spirit of all SADC initiatives, the AU remains convinced that Zimbabweans will be able to resolve their differences and work together once again as one nation, provided that they receive undivided support from SADC, the AU and the world at large, the statement read.

The AU expressed its appreciation to SADC and its organ on politics defence and security operation as well as South African President Thabo Mbeki and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping for their ongoing work aimed at reconciling the political parties in Zimbabwe.

Member states and all parties concerned, however, were urged to refrain from any action that may negatively impact on the climate of dialogue.

The AU said it was also concerned about the negative reports of SADC, the AU and the Pan-African Parliament observers on the Zimbabwean Presidential run-off election held on Friday.

The SADC Observer Mission said on Tuesday that the process leading up to the Zimbabwe presidential run-off elections did not conform to its principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

In a report presented by Angolan Minister of Youth and Sport, Jose Marcos Barrica, who headed the SADC election observer mission in Zimbabwe, it was reported that the pre-election phase was characterised by politically motivated violence, intimidation and displacements.

Various international leaders particularly Britain and the United States, the United Nations, the The Elders, a group comprising former heads of state and Nobel laureates such as Nelson Mandela have all called for the AU to denounce the elections.

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