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Annan Urges African Countries to Put More Pressure on Zimbabwe


Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has criticized African countries for not pressuring Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, to release the results of last month's presidential elections. Mr. Annan had more positive comments regarding the resolution of the political crisis that erupted in the aftermath of Kenya's presidential elections late last year. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls it totally unacceptable for officials in Zimbabwe to withhold the results of the presidential election more than three weeks after the vote took place.

He says the neighboring countries have to exert the necessary pressure to get this issue resolved.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won March's presidential vote outright, a claim President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party denies.

Mr. Annan says African governments cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening. He says they must intervene.

"The countries of the region have to come together and find a way of doing it and not treat it as an internal problem of Zimbabwe alone," he said. "An internal problem that creates three million refugees in South Africa alone, an internal problem that creates almost an economic collapse and forces people to leave the country can no longer be defined as an internal problem. There is a regional dimension. There is a human rights aspect that governments in the region have to take seriously and the African Union as well."

Annan says he regrets the United Nations and the African Union have not taken any effective or serious action to diffuse the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Turning to another part of the continent, the former U.N. chief has kinder words to say about the manner in which Kenya's political crisis has been resolved.

He says the international community got it right in this instance. He says visits from high-level leaders to Kenya were discouraged and only he was left to mediate a deal between the two rival political parties.

After several months of wrangling, President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga named a 40-member cabinet as part of the national-unity government.

Annan says he believes the government will succeed because Kenyan civil society and the people are more engaged in the country's political life.

"I walked away from Kenya last Saturday very encouraged," he said. "I am confident they will make it work. I think we should give them a chance. I am very confident they can do it. And, the two leaders, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga have different incentives to make it work."

Annan notes the instability in Kenya had a bad impact on the economies of its neighboring countries. He says these governments have an incentive to make sure Kenya does not fall apart.

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