Mugabe should resign to spare Zimbabwe, says EU
The union presidency said on Tuesday it wants Zimbabwe President to step down to spare his nation of political turmoil.2 April 2008
BRUSSELS - The European Union said Tuesday it wants Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe to step down to spare his nation political turmoil.
"If Mr. Mugabe continues, there will be a coup d'etat," Slovenian foreign minister Dimitri Rupel, whose country holds the EU presidency, told reporters after briefing the European Parliament on last weekend's EU foreign ministers meeting.
He said he hoped Mugabe "is on his way out".
Rupel's comments came as Britain, long a sharp critic of Mugabe, consulted with African leaders on the aftermath of an election Mugabe's opposition says it won.
The Netherlands hailed the possibility of an opposition victory, while other European leaders called for a quick release of official results. Results have only trickled out since Saturday's vote, leading to concerns Mugabe's regime is plotting to steal the elections.
At his monthly news conference in London, Brown told reporters, "It's very important that the democratic rights of the Zimbabwe people be respected and upheld and recognised. That's why I continue to call for the election results to be published, and not to be withheld.
"It's absolutely critical that the elections are fair and are seen to be fair and the eyes of the world will be upon Zimbabwe," said Brown, who was holding talks on Tuesday with Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete, who is current president of the African Union, and spoke Monday to South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki and ex-United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan over the aftermath of the poll.
Brown's spokesman Michael Ellam declined to offer details of the talks with Mbeki or Annan.
"This is an ongoing and sensitive situation, so it is not appropriate to get into the substance," Ellam said on Monday.
Ellam also said Britain had plans to offer more aid to Zimbabwe if "the democratic wish of the people is respected".
European legislators said Tuesday it appeared Mugabe may have lost. But independent observers in Zimbabwe suggest that though opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai may have won the largest number of votes in the presidential race, it won't be enough to avoid a runoff with Mugabe.
"I get the impression that the Zimbabweans have voted for change and democratic forces have the upper hand. Now, finally, the people of Zimbabwe have the prospect of a better life," Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters that results must be released swiftly.
"We are very worried over the fact that electoral results have not been made public by the Electoral Commission," Solana said. "I think it is very important that those results are publicly done, the sooner the better. It will be very important for the reaction of the society."
Foreign ministers from France, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Britain published a joint statement in Paris on Monday night expressing concern about the delay in publication of the election results.
"The future of the Zimbabwean people depends on the credibility and the transparency of the electoral process," the statement said.
[Copyright AP 2008]