From: Rick Rozoff <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

Subject: Axis Of Evil: Zimbabwe


[The North has got to stop it in Harare before it
reaches the heartland of America.]

Wednesday January 30 7:17 AM ET
Britain Presses Commonwealth to Suspend Zimbabwe
By Dominic Evans
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain urged Commonwealth foreign
ministers Wednesday to suspend Zimbabwe from the
organization to punish President Robert Mugabe for his
pre-election crackdown on the media and political
Suspension would be a largely symbolic gesture of
public admonition by a peer group with few practical
Speaking before a meeting of the Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the body's democracy
watchdog, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he wanted
Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the
Commonwealth's main decision-making bodies.
He said he would also ask the ministers to recommend
formally to the Commonwealth summit meeting in
Australia in March that Britain's former colony be
completely suspended.
``I will be arguing ... for Zimbabwe to be suspended
from the councils of the Commonwealth and for there to
be a recommendation to the Commonwealth (summit) for
Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth
itself,?? Straw told reporters.
But he said it was not clear if the eight ministers
gathering in London could reach the required
Britain, Australia and Canada are Zimbabwe's most
vocal critics in CMAG. The other five members --
Botswana, Barbados, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Nigeria
-- have been more cautious.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said this
week that no action taken by the Commonwealth was
likely to influence Mugabe before Zimbabwe's March
9-10 presidential elections, when he will seek to
extend his 22-year rule.
But diplomats say such moves have been taken in the
past only against Commonwealth countries where
governments have been overthrown in military coups,
and that action against Zimbabwe would send a powerful
message about upholding the rule of law.
International concern over the two-year wave of
seizures of Zimbabwe's white-owned farms has grown in
the run-up to the elections as Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF
party cracked down on political opponents and imposed
restrictions on media.
CMAG suspended Pakistan and Fiji from the councils of
the Commonwealth following military coups. Fiji was
readmitted last month but Pakistan has remained on the
sidelines since President Pervez Musharraf seized
power in October 1999.
The Commonwealth meeting comes two days after the
European Union (news - web sites) ratcheted up
pressure on Mugabe.
EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to impose a travel
ban on the top 20 individuals in Mugabe's inner circle
and their families and to freeze their foreign assets
if Zimbabwe prevented the deployment of EU election
Mugabe, who has accused Britain of orchestrating a
campaign to demonize his country, said he would accept
foreign election observers -- except for Britons.
Straw said the Commonwealth had already given Mugabe
many chances to change course, most recently at a
meeting in Nigeria last year.
``We and the rest of the Commonwealth went the extra
mile at Abuja in September where Zimbabwe agreed with
the rest of the Commonwealth that they would stick to
the clear principles of ... freedom of speech, human
rights, (and) allowing oppositions to operate
effectively,?? he said.
``They have patently failed to do so.??

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