AU intervention sought over Zimbabwean human rights abuses

Sharm El Sheikh- Egypt (PANA) -- African civil society activists Friday opposed p roposals for a power-sharing formula in Zimbabwe after the presidential run off e lection in the Southern Africa state, saying it would destroy Africa's democrati c credentials.
The non-governmental organisations, which held a "Citizen's Continental Conferen ce" on the 11th African Union Summit agenda, said Zimbabwean leaders must be hel d to account for human rights violations and the torture of thousands of oppositi o n supporters.
Yemisrach Kebede, the Coordinator of the Centre for Citizens Participation in th e AU, said a meeting of the continent's human rights networks agreed unanimously to call for a probe into the massive allegations of human rights violations in Z i mbabwe.
"The African Union must publicly condemn and call for an end to the violations a nd abuses taking place in Zimbabwe and a restoration of basic political and civi l rights," she said as African ministers opened discussions on the Zimbabwean cri s is.
The Ministers, holding the 13th session of the organisation's Executive Council, opted to wait for the conclusion of the one-man election race in Zimbabwe, with incumbent leader Robert Mugabe as the sole candidate.
"The African ministers were conciliatory in their discussions on the Zimbabwean crisis.
We understand the country is deeply divided and no one side can rule wit h out the other," a minister who attended the closed-door sessions, told PANA.
AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, who presided over his first full Executive Council meeting ahead of the 11th session of the heads of state assembly, said Z i mbabwe required urgent solutions which the African leaders would soon proffer.
"There is no African meeting which can be complete without discussions on Zimbab we," Ping told a news conference late Friday after holding a series of meetings w ith African ministers, including Zimbabwean foreign Minister.
Human rights activists said the proposed power-sharing model in Zimbabwe was mak ing a mockery of Africa's democracy and could make it impossible in future for A f rican states to change governments through democratic models.
"The power-sharing formula is a very bad model for Africa, why invest a lot of m oney in an election if you know who would win, why create an atmosphere of viole n ce and make a country ungovernable," said Alioun Tine, the Secretary- General, an t i-poverty network, RADDHO.
"If we continue like this, it will not be possible to continue with elections in Africa.
Power-sharing is not a democratic system," Tine added.
The rights networks said Zimbabwe should immediately invite the Special Rapporte ur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to investigate allegati o ns of human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
Opposition officials in Zimbabwe have alleged that a government campaign of terr or and intimidation has left more than 90 people dead.
The rights advocates said the government should move to immediately reinstate do zens of humanitarian organisations denied access to the country and allow the ci v il society to operate uninterrupted.
They also called for funding for humanitari a n interventions there.
"We are deeply concerned that despite four million Zimbabweans requiring humanit arian assistance, the government has ordered the suspension of the work of the c i vil society.

28 juin 2008 08:49:00

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