Tutu calls on African Union not to recognise Mugabe

By staff writers
June 29, 2008

Robert Mugabe waved a Bible and made an oath of allegiance before God to Zimbabwe as he was sworn in as president following an election widely dismissed as meaningless. But anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Tutu says he must go.

Dr Tutu, Noble Peace Prize Laureate and Anglican Archbishop Emeritus in South Africa, earlier today called on the African Union not to recognise the bogus poll, and said that people who love justice and democracy must continue to support the people of Zimbabwe.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai decided to stand aside to try to avert violence over a week ago, says that says some 86 of its supporters have been killed and 200,000 forced from their homes by militias loyal to the Zanu-PF.

Human rights groups say that final estimates of the death toll may be even higher, and tonight there were reports of continuing violence, with Mugabe supporters attacking non-voters (identifiable by the lack of a stark red hand-mark) and intimidating opponents.

Archbishop Tutu told the BBC that Mr Mugabe should have no role in a future government, and said that he would support the deployment of a UN force to restore peace in the country.

There has also been international outrage at events in Zimbabwe in recent weeks. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was time for strong international action to end the violence in Zimbabwe.

Ms Rice, meeting her Chinese counterpart in Beijing, urged members of the UN Security Council to back proposals for an arms embargo and a travel ban on Mr Mugabe's associates.

British Prime Minister also pledged money and assistance when Mr Mugabe, who claimed over 84 per cent of a 42 per cent turnout finally left office.

131,481 ballot papers were spoiled and a quarter of a million people voted for the MDC, even though their candidate was not standing. Zanu-PF activists and troops tried to cajole people into participating in the poll, which independent African parliamentary observers immediately condemned.

But in spite of their tactics, 58 per cent of those eligible to vote declined to do so. This, combined with Mr Mugabe's defeat by Mr Tsvangirai in the first round of the poll and well-documented abuses means that few will regard the result as a legitimate and free expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people - still facing starvation, human rights violations and economic collapse.

Me Tsvangirai said today that he was willing to hold talks with the President. Many of his advisers believe that this is the only hope of stopping or reducing the ongoing violence.

Eyes are now turning towards South Africa and Zimbabwe's other neighbours to see how they will respond.

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