Monday, December 8, 2008

MUGABE MUST GO NOW, SAYS RAILA

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THE STANDARD

By David Ohito

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has fired another salvo at Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, calling his rule a "vile dictatorship" that must be stopped.

Raila has called on the African Union to send troops to end the humanitarian crisis, saying the Kenyan Cabinet would convene next week to discuss the Zimbabwean situation.

Kenya becomes the first African country to propose a decisive action against Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

Raila said the crisis in Zimbabwe had reached a point where other African States could no longer turn a blind eye.

He urged Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the AU chairman, to call an urgent Heads of State summit and send troops Zimbabwe.

"The international community must respond to the call of the African people and help end this murderous reign of Mugabe," Raila told an international press conference at the Serena Hotel yesterday.

Supporting calls for armed intervention to remove Mugabe from power, Raila said: "If AU has no troops, it must allow the UN to send forces to Zimbabwe to take control of the country and ensure flow of humanitarian assistance."

POLLS

He said elections had taken place on March 29, claiming that Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai won.

"Mugabe must be sent home immediately and the duly elected government in Zimbabwe must take office," Raila said.

Raila agreed with South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu that Mugabe’s case deserves investigation by the International Criminal Court.

"Mugabe has turned his country from the breadbasket of Africa into a disaster of unprecedented proportions," he said.

He lamented that children in Zimbabwe have only gone school for 23 days this year, and the majority of the population had no food. They survive by foraging for berries, digging for roots and boiling edible weeds.

NO CONTRADICTION

Asked why President Kibaki had not come out to address the Zimbabwean crisis, Raila said he was doing so on behalf of the Government.

"There is no contradiction on this issue. We speak as the Government and President Kibaki has every right to his position on the Zimbabwean crisis," Raila said.

Raila accused the South African Development Cooperation (SADC), which has been mandated by AU to mediate the Zimbabwe crisis, of acting without conviction or resolve.

"The AU has shrunk from shouldering its responsibility to offer leadership and direction in ending this tragedy," Raila charged, adding that the power-sharing attempt in Zimbabwe, unlike in Kenya, had failed due to the indecisive conduct of the mediator — former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Raila’s statement came days after he met Tsvangirai and African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma who visited Nairobi briefly last week.

"We must not fail the dying people of Zimbabwe in this hour of their greatest need. We must assist them to end this vile dictatorship. We must beg them not to despair and urge them to marshal whatever little strength they have to stand firm," Raila said.

Raila told Mugabe to leave office peacefully.

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