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Rudd Govt should call for Commonwealth Heads of Government over Zimbabwe.



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Wed, 16th April 2008 RUDD GOVT SHOULD CALL FOR COMMONWEALTH HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MEETING OVER ZIMBABWE

The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs (to 22 September 2008)

The crisis in Zimbabwe warrants the Rudd Government calling on the newly appointed Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, to convene a special Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

"The grotesque abuse of the Zimbabwean electoral process by tyrant Robert Mugabe and the failure of the 14-nation South African Development Community (SADC) summit and South African President, Thabo Mbeki, in particular, to confront Mr Mugabe, suggests an urgent need for the Commonwealth to seek to influence the situation," the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP, said today.

"Mr Mbeki's comments following the SADC summit in Lusaka, Zambia, over the weekend that 'there is no crisis in Zimbabwe' and 'quiet diplomacy' is needed only further heightens the need for the Commonwealth to use its influence with African leaders neighbouring Zimbabwe to protect the future of democracy in Zimbabwe, and end decades of economic decay, social disintegration and massive human rights violations.

"Involvement by the Commonwealth would send a strong signal to Zimbabwe and its people given that one-third of the membership of the Commonwealth are African countries.

"Spanning one third of the globe, the Commonwealth must continue to promote the principles of democracy, respect for the rule of law and economic reform.

"A call on the Commonwealth to convene an urgent Heads of Government Meeting by Australia would be an appropriate action by a 'creative middle power activist' country.

"With Zimbabwe's citizens ravaged by starvation, an inflation rate of 100,000% and an unemployment rate of 80%, rapid action is required.

"The Commonwealth must influence Zimbabwe's neighbours and the United Nations to bring about change," Mr Robb said.