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Preoccupied With Pakistan, Commonwealth Reluctant To Take Up Zimbabwe


Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations lobbying Commonwealth leaders to take a stronger stance on the crisis in the Southern African country encountered resistance from outgoing Commonwealth Secretary Don McKinnon, NGO sources said.

NGO sources said McKinnon, presented with a report by Zimbabwean activists on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in Kampala, Uganda, urging an expanded role by the Commonwealth, told them that the organization cannot interfere in the affairs of the Zimbabwean government and does not want to discuss the matter further.

The Zimbabwean NGOs also sent the report to Malawian president Bingu Mutharika, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Ghanaian President John Kufuor, currently holding the rotating chairmanship of the African Union.

Liaison Officer Dewa Mavhinga of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Kufuor promised to take the Zimbabwe crisis up with other leaders though Pakistan dominated talks.

In the main Commonwealth summit business Friday, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain opened the heads of state meeting with her husband, Prince Philip, by her side.

Commonwealth Deputy Spokesman Manoah Esipisu of Kenya gave reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe further details on the summit launch.

President Robert Mugabe took Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth in 2003 after the grouping of mostly British former colonies it announced it would extend a suspension imposed over what it said was a 2002 presidential election marred by violence against the opposition. Mr. Mugabe has called the Commonwealth an "evil organization."

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe...