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Goff welcomes Commonwealth action on Zimbabwe


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

21 December 2001

Goff welcomes Commonwealth action on Zimbabwe

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has welcomed the action taken by the Commonwealth to place Zimbabwe on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) agenda.

“I wrote last week to CMAG Chair Mr Merafhe of Botswana asking for this action to be taken as a first step to put pressure on the Zimbabwe government for its flagrantly undemocratic actions and breach of the rule of law.

“The Commonwealth cannot ignore what is happening in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe appears to be willing to do anything to stay in power, including destroying his country, formerly one of the stronger economies in southern Africa. The ordinary people of Zimbabwe are paying the price for his ambitions.

“The worsening intimidation of all whom he perceives to oppose him – commercial farmers, community leaders, judges, journalists – with the complicity of the security agencies is unacceptable.

“Zimbabwe’s Rhodesia-era security laws are already contrary to democratic principles. The proposal to toughen them will make it possible to outlaw the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

“The Abuja Agreement, reached in September through the good offices of the Nigerian President, offered the Zimbabwean Government a way to resolve the important issue of land redistribution. However the Zimbabwe government has broken its undertaking to honour the agreement.

“The international community needs to bring its weight to bear on President Mugabe to change his policies and return his country to the rule of law.

“The cancellation of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October prevented the Commonwealth from endorsing a new set of measures that CMAG could take against countries which are seriously in breach of the Commonwealth’s fundamental principles. Suspension from the Councils of Commonwealth has to be considered in such cases.

“International election observers need to be deployed in Zimbabwe well before the March elections or they will not be able to do a credible job. If President Mugabe does not meet undertakings to ensure this, his government should be suspended from the Commonwealth,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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