The East Africa Law Society is calling on the African Union to take strong action on Zimbabwe. The group held what it called an emergency Pan-African Citizens consultative meeting today in Dar es Salaam.
Bobi Odiko is a spokesperson for the East Africa Law Society. From Dar es Salaam, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
“The purpose of today’s meeting in Dar es Salaam was really to discuss what is happening in Zimbabwe. We had a number of objectives, which include developing our civil society approach towards addressing that crisis. Then we also want to demonstrate solidarity by sending a message that we of the African continent are concerned and engaged with the crisis that’s happening,” he says.
He adds, “We also want to target the African Union, the foremost forum, calling upon them to act effectively in regards to Zimbabwe. We want to send a stronger communiqué to the chairman of the AU.”
What could the AU do about Zimbabwe? Odiko says, “We think that the AU needs to send out a very strong message that democracy must be seen to prevail. We also want them to put pressure on the (Zimbabwean) government to actually release those (election) results because it makes no sense to call for a re-run when in the first place there are no results to talk about or a re-run to talk about.”
The AU has been asked to forward the communiqué from Monday’s meeting to the Zimbabwean government and the opposition MDC party.
“Africa is seeing very dangerous precedents now. We saw the issue in Kenya regarding elections. We’re now seeing Zimbabwe and who knows what’s next. So we would like African leaders to respect constitutionalism and the rule of law,” he says.
The communiqué is also being sent to SADC, the Southern African Development Community, but Odiko says, “We are targeting the AU as a first entry point.”
About 110 representatives from various groups attended the meeting, including civil society groups, lawyers and representatives from southern African countries.