(AFP) – Jun 30, 2008
NAIROBI (AFP) — Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday called on the African Union to suspend President Robert Mugabe over Zimbabwe's widely condemned election.
"Mugabe should be suspended until he allows the AU to facilitate free and fair elections," Odinga told a Nairobi press conference after talks with US Senator Bill Nelson.
The "AU will be setting a dangerous precedent if Mugabe is allowed to participate in its meetings," Odinga said. "Right now Mugabe is a crisis, they have no president with legitimacy to run the country."
Nelson called for calm in Zimbabwe, where ruling party supporters have been accused of targeting opposition followers ahead of Friday's presidential run-off election in which Mugabe was the only candidate.
"We want law and order to be restored in Zimbabwe and free and fair election conducted," Nelson added.
Mugabe, 84, who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, was sworn in on Sunday for a sixth term after he was declared winner of the election, which was boycotted by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
African Union observers condemned the election as undemocratic as Mugabe arrived at an AU summit in Egypt, where the Zimbabwe crisis was the focus of discussion.
The United Nations has urged African leaders to help resolve the crisis, although they are not expected to publicly rebuke Mugabe.
Mugabe has offered to hold talks with the opposition but critics have blamed him for the worsening security and economic meltdown in his southern African nation. Mugabe has blamed the crisis on the West, notably Britain, Australia and United States, for imposing sactions.
Mugabe came second to Tsvangirai in the first round of voting in March but his opponent withdrew from the run-off saying it was too dangerous for his supporters to vote.
Odinga, one of Africa's most vocal critics of the Zimbabwean leader, spoke in Nairobi, while Kenya was being represented by President Mwai Kibaki at the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Kibaki has not made any public statement on Zimbabwe, but Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said last week that while Nairobi favoured dialogue to end the crisis, it would still accept any decision adopted by the AU summit.
Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has called for a government of unity in Zimbabwe, warning that any sanctions would only worsen living conditions.
"For now, we should go for a transitional government of national unity ... It is not the time to talk about imposing sanctions for Zimbabwe," Musyoka said on Sunday.
Odinga at the weekend urged the AU to send troops to Zimbabwe, saying Mugabe's behaviour was an embarrassment to Africa.
Odinga himself became prime minister after violence spurred by disputed December 27 polls in which he claimed victory, but accused Kibaki of poll fraud. The unrest claimed at least 1,500 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.
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