- I've already sent a story similar to this, but note particularly the second to last paragraph. The thought of this amuses me greatly, for some reason...
African leaders appeal to Mugabe
January 14, 2002 Posted: 6:38 AM EST (1138 GMT)
BLANTYRE, Malawi -- Southern
African leaders opened a summit in
Malawi with an appeal for Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe to ensure
free and fair elections in March's
Malawi President Bakili Muluzi began the
one-day meeting of 14 African states in
the Southern African Development
Community with a call for Mugabe to
resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic
"As the date for the presidential elections
in Zimbabwe has been announced, we are
very hopeful that the elections will be
peaceful, free, fair and transparent,"
Muluzi said in an opening address to the
SADC summit attended by Mugabe.
"I hope that it will be so by allowing every
Zimbabwean to participate effectively in the
elections in the spirit of democratic principles and
values which are within the framework of the SADC
protocol," Muluzi said.
SADC is under pressure to condemn Mugabe and
even consider imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.
However, observers say a the group has a tradition
of solidarity in the face of Western criticism. SADC leaders have previously ruled
out sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, 77, arrived in Malawi on Saturday in a combative mood, accusing former
colonial power Britain of trying to help the opposition into power in the March
Also on the summit agenda were the wars in the Congo and Angola.
Hopes of bolstering Congo's peace negotiations hit a snag even before the one-day
summit got under way, when President Joseph Kabila declined to meet rebel groups
who have been fighting to oust his government.
The leaders of the rebel groups, the Congolese Rally for Democracy and the
Congolese Liberation Movement, were invited to Malawi by Mozambican President
Joachim Chissano, who heads SADC's regional security body.
Kabila also objected to the leaders of Rwanda and Uganda -- which back the rebels
-- attending the summit.
The presence of foreign troops in Congo was "an injustice that has to be solved
sooner than later," and three previous SADC meetings had failed to ensure they left,
Kabila said on Sunday. "I hope we will be successful this time around."
Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia also sent troops to back the Congolese government
after war broke out in August 1998. A peace accord brokered in 1999 has been
Nevertheless, SADC leaders were encouraged that Congo's war seemed to finally
be drawing to a close, said Justin Malewezi, the Vice President of Malawi, which
Prospects for peace were considered slimmer in Angola, where a civil war, which
began after the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975, has killed more
than 500,000 people and displaced about 4 million others -- a third of the
population. A four-year-old peace accord collapsed in 1998.
Despite U.N. sanctions, UNITA rebels are still selling diamonds to fund their effort
to overthrow the government, Malewezi said.
"It is only when all loopholes for the sanctions busting are closed that UNITA's
capacity to destabilise Angola will be decisively paralysed," he said.
"Let's try at this very difficult time to assist, to take measures that will help us
stabilise the situation," he said.
Also on the summit's agenda are lectures by Harvard economics professor Jeffrey
Sachs and Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2. The two will try and
persuade the region's governments to spend more money fighting rampant AIDS
SADC comprises South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland,
Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Mauritius, Seychelles, Angola, the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia.