AU calls for emergency Zimbabwe meeting in S.Africa

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African Union’s (AU) chief Jean Ping said Friday he would not consider sending troops to Zimbabwe to help deal with a health humanitarian crisis there, nor will a military solution be sought until the diplomatic channels are exhausted.

AU Commission Chairperson, who spoke after meeting with a Venezuelan delegation to discuss Africa’s relations with the South Americas, said although the situation in Zimbabwe continued to deteriorate, it had not reached a point for intervention.

“I think everywhere, whenever there is a crisis, a military solution is the last thing when you have exhausted all the possible solutions. I do not think, at this stage, we are already there,” Ping told journalists.

African leaders, including South Africa’s renowned peacemaker Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, have called on the AU to send peace keepers to Zimbabwe to help stabilize the country and oust the president there.

The AU said it was mobilizing all the African forces, including the continent’s leaders, the various economic blocs dotting the continent, for an urgent meeting in neighbouring South Africa to consider possible humanitarian responses and funding for Zimbabwe.

Tanzania, currently chairing the 53-member AU Assembly of heads of state, is convening the emergency meeting for the heads of the African economic blocs, to discuss the crisis.

Ping said no consensus had been reached on exactly whether the meeting would be held in South Africa between 14 and 16 December to deliberate on the crisis.

The meeting will bring together all the regional economic blocs in Africa, including the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the East African Community (EAC) and the rest.

Meanwhile, international condemnation of President Robert Mugabe’s rule, which is now blamed for the country’s failure to curb a wild cholera outbreak which has reportedly killed close to 1000 people, have continued, with the European Union threatening more sanctions.

President Mugabe said Thursday that he would not allow any peacekeeping force in to the country and rejected calls for him to step down over the cholera outbreak.

The AU said Thursday it sympathized with the Southern African country and announced a pledge of US$ 100,000 to help Zimbabwe deal with the cholera outbreak.

It said all the other states, friendly to the AU, should also consider similar ventures.

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