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Cablegate: Nigeria: Gon Calls for Delay of Zimbabwe Poll

VZCZCXRO4928
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHUJA #1250 1791203
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271203Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3246
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0289
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 9511
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS ABUJA 001250

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/S, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL NI ZI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: GON CALLS FOR DELAY OF ZIMBABWE POLL

1. After resolutions by both the Senate and the House of
Representatives urging the Nigerian government to intervene
in the Zimbabwe crisis, the GON publicly called for the
postponement of Zimbabwe's presidential run-off. The
Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement late on June
26 which said that "Nigeria joins the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and well-meaning friends of
Zimbabwe in calling for a postponement of the election. In
the present circumstances, it is doubtful if a credible
run-off election can be held in Zimbabwe." The MFA statement
also "calls on the government of Zimbabwe to take up the
offer of fresh negotiations with a view to restoring normalcy
and a congenial atmosphere for free and fair elections in the
country."

2. According to press accounts, Nigeria's Senate adopted a
motion June 25 which called on President Yar'Adua to "join
the African Union and United Nations in encouraging President
Mugabe to step down." The Senators also asked President
Yar'Adua to "appeal for the people's choice to be respected"
and to ask the GOZ to "stop political violence, harassment,
and intimidation." On June 26, the House of Representatives
also took up the issue of Zimbabwe's election. The House
resolved to "urge the President of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria to leverage the leadership position of Nigeria and
its inherent goodwill to mid-wife an immediate cessation of
hostilities between supporters of the ruling party and those
of the opposing parties in order to halt (Zimbabwe's)
imminent decline into anarchy." The resolution also called
on the Nigerian President to meet with other leaders of the
African Union to try to bring together the Zimbabwean
government and opposition to agree upon "a mutually
beneficial political agreement until proper elections can be
held under the close scrutiny of international observers."

3. Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe also told
Ambassador just before his departure to the U.S. on July 19
that he had been in contact with the Zimbabwean Foreign
Minister at the behest of President Yar'Adua to encourage a
more transparent process.

4. Comment: Post will follow up with MFA and National
Assembly contacts to obtain full texts of the House, Senate,
and MFA statements on Zimbabwe and forward them via email to
AF/W and AF/S. It is unusual for the GON to speak out so
publicly and harshly on domestic politics of another African
nation, especially one outside the West African region,
although they do so in private. The GON statements, though
only one day ahead of the June 27 run-off poll, are better
late than never and may bode well for African Union
initiatives on Zimbabwe next week at the Summit in Sharm
El-Sheikh. End Comment.
SANDERS

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