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Commonwealth SG'S Statement on Zimbabwe

Commonwealth Secretary-General's Statement on Zimbabwe

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr Don McKinnon, today (May 2nd 2000) issued the following statement:

I was surprised to read a newspaper report regarding the situation in Zimbabwe which is purportedly based on an interview I gave to The Dominion newspaper in New Zealand. I have been quoted completely out of context. In fact, I suggested during the interview that while any loss of life was unfortunate, the kind of outrage shown at the killing of white farmers in Zimbabwe had not been matched by similar concern over the deaths of large numbers of black Africans in places like Rwanda and Congo. I also indicated that tension on the eve of an election is a common occurrence anywhere and is not peculiar to Zimbabwe. In no way did I mean to suggest that volatile politics is confined to countries in Africa.

Democracy, human rights and the rule of law are core values of the Commonwealth. Their violation is a matter of concern, wherever it occurs, and the Commonwealth is not about to walk away from these principles.

On Zimbabwe, I have been in touch directly with President Mugabe and a number of other African leaders. I will be meeting today with the Zimbabwe delegation currently visiting the UK. We continue to monitor the situation closely and I have repeatedly expressed my view that the recent tensions do not create an atmosphere conducive to free and fair elections. I have offered Commonwealth technical assistance and Commonwealth observers for the elections, and would wish to remain firmly engaged.

Issued by the Information and Public Affairs Division,
Commonwealth Secretariat,
Marlborough House,
Pall Mall,
London SW1Y 5HX,
Tel: 0171-839 3411;
Fax: 0171:839 9081;
Telex: 27678

00/28 2 May 2000

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