Africa Union leaders currently meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have roped in one of their controversial counterparts, Robert Mugabe, to mediate in the Ivory Coast crisis.
News from Ethiopia of Mugabe’s drafting has angered human rights activists and political analysts in Zimbabwe.
Reports say Mugabe, 86 has joined in the expanded mediating team that includes South African leader, Jacob Zuma, Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and the President of Mauritania.
The AU on Friday announced the setting up of a five-member heads of state panel to make binding recommendations on the Ivory Coast rivals within a month.
AU Commission chief Jean Ping said Saturday that the panel would help Ouattara “exercise power” through a negotiated deal, reports say.
African Union leaders began talks Sunday to reach a common strategy on resolving Ivory Coast’s protracted crisis and tackle other continental trouble spots.
The drafting in of Mugabe has been seen by his rivals as an endorsement of being ‘legitimately elected” by African leaders.
“This is a travesty of justice. How does Mugabe whose country is under South Africa Development Community (SADC) mediation be chosen to be a peace broker in another country whose problems are similar his” asked Steven Chivero of Stand Up for Zimbabwe.
According to Chivero this action shows that African leaders “fear Mugabe”.
Other groupings said Mugabe’s appointment would “have a negative bearing on SADC’s mediation role” in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, who participated in Friday’s Peace and Security Council decision has held on to power through a negotiated agreement after an apparent electoral defeat.
Ivory Coast has been gripped by a political crisis since the Election Commission named Alassane Quattara, 69, as the winner of the country’s November 28 presidential elections. But incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, 65, has refused to concede defeat, alleging voter fraud.
Last week, a Harare based think tank, Mass Public Opinion Institute asserted that Mugabe still wields too much political influence despite the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that stipulates that he should share power with premier Morgan Tsvangirai.
The think tanks survey says the majority of Zimbabweans felt that the government has failed to ensure a fair distribution of power, with Mugabe wielding excessive power compared to his counterparts in the coalition.
“Power was not shared equally in this inclusive government as an overwhelming 76% believe that the President has real executive power compared to the prime minister,” reads part of the findings of the survey conducted between August 18 and August 23 2010.
Thirty-one per cent of the respondents felt that the partners in government were not co-operating, while 25 per cent were in between and 14 per cent felt the partners were working together fairly well.
About 16% felt that the inclusive government was working “very well’, 27 per cent felt Zanu-PF was not committed at all to the GNU.
Public opinion showed that 11 per cent thought that the MDC-T was not committed at all, while 25 per cent said the MDC-M was also not committed.
On free political activity, 35 per cent of those polled felt the GNU performed badly.