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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Still Providing Cover for Tyrants

Leaders in Africa continue to provide cover for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to continue his illegitimate rule of the country. By resisting calls for sanction and continuing to suggest that the road forward is through a unity government, these leaders are doing their best to provide legitimacy to the tyrant: while no one can seemingly deny that he bullied, murdered, brutalized, and intimidated his way into office, they still imagine that no legitimate representative government can be established without Mugabe and his party.

What they seem to fail to understand is that no legitimate representative government can be recognized untilMugabe and his party no longer stand at the helm of the government. Until power has passed peacefully from Mugabe and to a democratically elected head of state, the government of Zimbabwe is a lie that was forced on its citizens at the barrel of a gun. Specifically, any government that preserves Mugabe’s presidency is a lie and an affront to Zimbabweans.

Leaders from the developed world and Africa failed on Monday to agree on how to deal with the crisis in Zimbabwe, which overshadowed a meeting between the Group of Eight and seven African heads of state.

The African leaders resisted pressure from the US and Europe for sanctions against the Mugabe regime, telling the western nations that they still saw scope for African diplomacy to lead to a power-sharing accord.

Appearing at a joint news conference with President George W. Bush, Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania and chairman of the African Union, said: “The only area where we may differ is on the way forward.”

Last week the African Union called on both sides in the Zimbabwe crisis – President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – to come together in a national unity government. The call came after Mr Mugabe declared himself the winner of a presidential election run-off on June 27 which the MDC candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, boycotted, citing violence against his supporters.

Mr Kikwete said: “We are saying no party can govern alone in Zimbabwe and therefore the parties have to work together.”

The continued assertion--even if only by implication--of Mugabe’s legitimacy is disgusting and shameful. Once again, Africa’s leaders are failing Africa’s citizens.

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