(AFP) – Jul 1, 2008
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AFP) — The West has no basis to speak about the situation in Zimbabwe and can "go hang a thousand times," President Robert Mugabe's spokesman told journalists at an African summit on Tuesday.
"They can go and hang a thousand times, they have no basis, they have no claim on Zimbabwe politics at all," spokesman George Charamba said in answer to a question about Western criticism of Mugabe's widely discredited election.
Charamba was speaking at an African Union summit in Egypt amid intensifying pressure for the continent's leaders to act to resolve the crisis sparked by his presidential election which some fear could destabilise southern Africa.
The 53-member African Union was holding closed door talks on the final day of the summit.
Amid growing world criticism that the election was invalid, Charamba said that Mugabe's right to be president "derives from the Zimbabwe people as expressed through this June election. Anything else is immaterial and we don't give a damn."
He said that criticism of violence during the election was simply "a Western perspective."
"But from the perspective of our people, which is the perspective that matters, they went to the poll, they realised they were defending their own sovereignty and defending their own land and they did precisely that."
Amid South African-led efforts to broker a way out of the crisis between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Charamba said: "There are two political parties in Zimbabwe that are prepared to discuss -- we are talking about a ruling party that has offered dialogue to the opposition."
But "we are not promising (Tsvangirai) anything beyond what will emerge from the discussions."
Following criticism from AU observers that violence marred the vote, Charamba said: "They did not say that violence was related to one side of a political equation, it was directed at all political players."
He said that any solution to the crisis will be "defined by the Zimbabwe people, free from outside interference and that is exactly what will resolve this matter."
He said that Western criticism "recalls a a separate experience, an experience we've gone through before that, of colonialism."
Charamba also rejected criticism of the vote by British Foreign Office minister Mark Malloch Brown, blaming his words on the colonial past when Britain ruled Zimbabwe.
"When he pronounces himself on Zimbabwe, he is simply recalling an historical period when the white man reigned supreme in Zimbabwe and that era is gone, gone forever," Charamba said.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who has called for Mugabe's suspension from the African Union until he allows a free and fair election, has no right to criticise Zimbabwe because of violence during his own election crisis earlier this year, Charamba said.
"Prime Minister Raila Odinga's hands drip with blood, raw African blood, and that blood is not going to be cleansed by any amount of abuse of Zimbabwe."
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