Thursday

2nd Feb 2023

EU may take measures against Zimbabwe leader

  • Elections in Zimbabwe are a "sham," said one EU representative (Photo: The Mint Julep)

The EU has not ruled out taking action against Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe in the wake of presidential elections marred by extensive violence.

In a statement issued following the elections on Friday (27 June), Slovenia, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency warned "The European Union does not exclude the possibility of taking appropriate measures against those responsible for the tragic events of recent months."

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"The people of Zimbabwe were unable to express their will," the statement added. "As a result, these elections cannot be regarded as legitimate and the power of the elected representatives is questionable."

The European Commission equally attacked the validity of the poll, with spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy saying "[Friday's] election is a sham, the election is hollow and its result will be equally hollow and meaningless...The European Commission like the United Nations does not consider this election legitimate or valid."

In an interview on Monday with Germany daily Die Welt, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said "The recent elections in Zimbabwe were a farce," with the paper reporting she would welcome stronger EU sanctions against Mr Mugabe.

The UK has upped its rhetoric, urging African countries to do "whatever it takes" to get rid of the disgraced president. British Foreign Office minister Mark Malloch Brown said "everything's on the table now" in an interview with the BBC.

"The fact is, if law and order breaks down in the country, or if Mugabe is utterly resistant to change and continues to oppress violently peoples' human rights, then I hope the African neighbours will do whatever it takes to secure his departure," he explained.

Italy's foreign minister, former EU commissioner Franco Frattini, before the Zimbabwe poll suggested that EU member states withdraw their ambassadors from the country in protest.

Last week, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, also said his country was "ready to take, with its EU partners, all necessary measures against those responsible for this electoral masquerade."

Meanwhile, Javier Solana, the EU's foreign affairs chief, on Friday urged African nations to take matters into their own hands.

African reaction urged

"Democracy has not been served by today's run-off election. The people of Zimbabwe have been deprived of their right to vote freely and thus deprived of their dignity."

He described the situation in Zimbabwe as a "threat to regional stability" and called on the African Union, gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt today (30 June) for an AU summit to "draw the necessary conclusions."

The AU has a rule not to accept leaders who have not been democratically elected, however, a draft resolution on the matter from African foreign ministers ahead of the summit did not criticise the elections as undemocratic, but instead condemned the violence in the country.

Zimbabwe's neighbour, South Africa, on Friday blocked moves in the UN Security Council to declare the election illegitimate.

Mr Mugabe claimed victory in an election in which he was the sole candidate after opponent Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew accusing the Zimbabwean president of orchestrating violence against his supporters.

The chief election monitor from a South African Development Community observer mission, Jose Marcos Barrica, described the period leading up to the vote as "characterised by politically-motivated violence, intimidation and displacements."

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