INDEPENDENT NEWS

Zimbabwe Pulls Out Of Commonwealth

Published: Mon 8 Dec 2003 10:30 PM
Zimbabwe Pulls Out Of Commonwealth
By Selwyn Manning – Scoop Co-Editor
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has announced his country has pulled out of the Commonwealth.
Mugabe had threatened to quit should leaders at the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Abuja, Nigeria agree to continue Zimababwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth council.
Mugabe said in a government statement from Zimbabwe: "It's quits, and quits it will be.”
Speaking from Abuja Nigeria, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said: “Zimbabwe’s government seems determined to thumb its nose at international opinion.
“The door is still open for the good offices of the Commonwealth to be used to improve the situation in Zimbabwe in the interests of all its people.”
Earlier Clark expressed discomfort at what may become of Zimbabwe should Mugabe act on his threats to withdraw, fearing he may put in place a much harsher regime to control the nation.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, host of the Commonwealth summit, said he had hoped the decision to further suspend Zimbabwe, and engage with Mugabe would have sparked the "lifting of Zimbabwe's suspension..."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair had called extending the suspension "a strong signal" to Mugabe, citing the debate "a test of our commitment to democracy".
Helen Clark said Zimbabwe’s decision is not a disaster for the Commonwealth: “It is an indictment of Zimbabwe’s government that it has chosen this path.
“Not withstanding Zimbabwe’s decision, the New Zealand Government hope that Zimbabwe will reconsider and take the necessary steps to enable it to return to the Commonwealth as quickly as possible,” Helen Clark said.
Selwyn Manning
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