29 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Civil Society Denies Being Snubbed By African Union

The country's civil society groups have denied reports that they were snubbed by African Union leaders who met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over the weekend for their annual summit.

The state controlled media has been reporting that the AU ignored calls for the inclusion of Zimbabwe on the summit agenda.

But Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition programs manager, Nixon Nyikadzino, told SW Radio Africa they never tried to force any discussion on Zimbabwe but wanted to simply submit a statement to the Heads of State.

'The reports you are reading from the state media are far from the truth. We never sought to have any meetings with the leaders or force them to include Zimbabwe on their agenda. Our message to the AU leaders, via the statement that we submitted through the normal channels, was for them not to forget that Zimbabwe is still a burning issue.

'We are aware that there are more urgent matters in Mali and the DRC but they shouldn't forget that there are two countries, Kenya and Zimbabwe, who have coalition governments created with the blessing of the AU and whose terms of office are coming to end soon,' said Nyikadzino, who was in Addis Ababa for the summit.

He emphasized that their main focus in the Ethiopian capital was to ensure they built momentum on the Zimbabwe crisis as the shaky coalition government was coming to an end.

'As a guarantor to the GPA we urged the AU to have a multi-faceted approach to the resolution of crises which continue to rock our continent.

'We feel that the AU, being the mother body politic in Africa, should continuously be seized with the Madagascar, DRC, Sudan and Zimbabwe question while at the same time extending its hand to the emerging and ravaging civil wars in Mali,' explained Nyikadzino.

He said part of their statement to the AU called on the leaders to remind the inclusive government to take corrective measures in ensuring that the forthcoming elections will be decisive, free and fair.

'We reiterated in our statement that reforms should be implemented before the holding of an election in Zimbabwe so that people can decide on the draft constitution presented by COPAC in a referendum.

'We said there should be an immediate disbandment of all violence related militia groups such as the Chipangano (Mbare) and Al Shabab (KweKwe) and an immediate cessation of raids and harassment of civil society organisations and other pro- democracy movements,' he said.

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