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Group Rejects Former Nigerian Leader as AU Observer Head in Zimbabwe

  • James Butty

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo at a recent interview in Washington, D.C.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo at a recent interview in Washington, D.C.

The Pan African Forum has rejected the African Union’s decision to name former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as head of the AU election observer team to Zimbabwe’s July 31st election.

David Nyekorach-Matsanga, CEO of Pan African Forum, said the former Nigerian president is too divisive and could create an Egypt-style scenario in Zimbabwe.

The group described former Obasanjo as a traitor who has betrayed Africa during past election monitoring missions around the continent.

Nyekorach-Matsanga said Obasanjo has a dislike for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and a “soft spot” for the opposition, something he said could cause a conflict of interest in the election.

“We don’t have any personal hatred against General Obasanjo, but this is a man who can never be trusted to observe any elections in this African continent,” he said.

Nyekorach-Matsanga said the Zimbabwe elections are critical not only to the southern Africa region, but to the whole of Africa.

“We need sober minds, a cool observer, a person who is not erratic, a person who has not betrayed Africa before, a person who has never used double standard, and a person who has never failed election observers before,” he said.

He said Obasanjo betrayed Africa during past election monitoring missions around the continent.

“In Ghana, Obasanjo created a problem when he was the leader of an observer team; in Togo, Obasanjo created a problem; in Senegal, Obasanjo created a problem; in DRC, when Obasanjo was the leader of the negotiations between (renegade CNDP rebel leader Laurent) Nkunda and the Congolese government, he created a problem and aborted that mission,” he said.

Nyekorach-Matsanga said the former Nigerian president has no democratic credentials to lead a continental election monitoring mission because, as president of Nigeria, basanjo attempted to change the constitution in 2006 to give himself a third term.

In addition, Nyekorach-Matsanga said Obasanjo cannot be an impartial observer because he has in the past called Mugabe’s resignation.

“Obasanjo has called for the removal of President Mugabe violently. He has also taken sides with Morgan Tsvangirai. It is very, very incredible for any institution to take a man who has already taken sides to go and observe an election in a country that is facing an uphill task to produce a free and fair election,” he said.

Nyekorach-Matsanga boasts of the fact that his organization defended Zimbabwe against Western sanctions. Yet, he said, he’s not biased in criticizing Obasanjo.

“We have not only been supporters of President Mugabe, we have been supporting the entire country against sanctions. We are not rejecting Obasanjo because we hit MDC. No! We are only saying the elections in the Zimbabwe need a sober head, somebody whose track record is not litter with lies like Obasanjo,” Nyekorach-Matsanga said.

The AU observer mission is said to comprise 60 observers drawn from African electoral management bodies, civil society organizations, Pan-African Parliament, regional economic communities and human rights organizations.
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