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Hague urges Miliband to send a strong message to South Africa that Mugabe's government is illegitimate

William Hague responds to David Miliband's update on Zimbabwe: "There will be much common ground on many of the matters that the Foreign Secretary has mentioned, not least the thoughts and good wishes that he extended to the President of Zambia. We are united in this House in our horror that over the last decade the world has witnessed the Mugabe regime’s relentless abuse of the Zimbabwean people and the systematic destruction of their country.

The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is probably the worst anywhere in the world outside a war zone. One in four Zimbabweans have become refugees, and those who remain are at the mercy of a regime that beats, kills and tortures with impunity. Allowing Mugabe to cling to power is to consign the people of Zimbabwe to years, possibly, of further depredation and hopelessness. That is why the international community’s response to the situation matters so much and why today’s all-too-short debate is so important.

There will be general agreement in the House about much of the response, although I wish to press the Foreign Secretary on some points. I expect that we all agree that the European Union should widen its sanctions, as he mentioned; that it was right to issue a presidential statement to the UN and to seek a strong Security Council resolution now; and that African countries should join in not recognising the legitimacy of the Mugabe Government, although regrettably some have. 

The Minister with responsibility for Africa, Lord Malloch-Brown, has spoken of a knot tightening around the regime, and stated unequivocally that Mugabe cannot be a part of any Zimbabwean Government. We very much support such sentiments. The issue now is how that can be achieved. The Foreign Secretary spoke about the AU summit in terms with which I agree. It was very good that countries such as Botswana called for the suspension of Zimbabwe from African regional bodies, because its participation would

      “give unqualified legitimacy to a process that cannot be considered legitimate”.

It is disappointing, however, that the summit resolution was less critical of Zimbabwe than we would have wished. It seems clear that a credible mediation—to use that word again—requires a new or additional mediator, such as Kofi Annan or the Nigerian President, as Morgan Tsvangirai has said.

The Foreign Secretary said that he would travel shortly to South Africa. I hope that he will take that opportunity to deliver a united message from this country that, following the violence and the sham elections, the regime of Mugabe cannot be recognised as legitimate. I hope that he will be able to go a little further and say that in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, we regard Morgan Tsvangirai as the democratically elected leader of Zimbabwe subject, of course, to the subsequent decisions of the Zimbabwean people when at long last they have the freedom to make their own choices in the future."

More from Hansard here.


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