African Union rejects calls for action on Zimbabwe

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Protesters in Zimbabwe

The African Union has rejected Western calls for action in Zimbabwe, with South African spokesman Bheki Khumalo saying he is 'irritated' by UK foreign secretary Jack Straw's demands.

He told the BBC: "South Africa refuses to accept the notion that because suddenly we're going to a G8 summit, we must be reminded that we must look good and appease the G8 leaders. We will do things because we believe they are correct and right."

The leaders have said that Zimbabwe's actions, which have made an estimated 200,000 homeless, destroyed businesses and stopped farming in urban areas, are justified to restore order in the country.

Yesterday a coalition of 200 human rights groups, both African and international, also demanded that the issue be discussed at the AU. In the press release for Amnesty International, a representative of the coalition said: "The appointment of a UN Special Envoy to investigate the mass violations taking place in Zimbabwe is welcome. But effective action must also be taken immediately to help those already sleeping on the streets, beside the rubble of their homes and to ensure that the evictions and demolitions stop immediately."

"The AU and UN simply cannot ignore such an unprecedented, wide-ranging appeal on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, particularly from African civil society. African solidarity should be with the people of Africa - not their repressive leaders."

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