Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has received a warm welcome from his
peers at the African Union summit, despite calls for the AU to reject
Mr. Mugabe's re-election.
Mr. Mugabe walked into the main conference hall today flanked by the
summit host, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Tanzanian President
Jakaya Kikwete, who holds the rotating AU presidency.
The United States, Britain, and other countries have denounced Friday's
presidential run-off in Zimbabwe as a sham, and three African observer
teams, including that of the AU, have said the poll was badly marred by
But African leaders avoided direct criticism of Mr. Mugabe today (Monday) as the summit got underway in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Shiekh.
In remarks to the summit's opening session, the Tanzanian president
spoke only of "challenges" in Zimbabwe, while AU Commission Chairman
Jean Ping said Africa must do "everything in its power" to help
Zimbabwe resolve its political conflict.
A dissenting voice came from Nairobi, where Kenyan Prime Minister Raila
Odinga said the AU should suspend Mr. Mugabe until a fair election is
Mr. Mugabe was declared the winner of the election Sunday, and
immediately sworn in to a sixth term in office. Opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai dropped out of the race last week because of violence
against his supporters. His Movement for Democratic Change party says
pro-Mugabe militant killed dozens and injured
thousands of MDC supporters in the run-up to the vote.
Zimbabwe was not scheduled to be the focus of the two-day African Union
summit, but the run-off controversy has dominated the conversation
among the leaders.
African diplomats and politicians met in closed session for several
hours Sunday and early Monday to discuss how to respond to Mr. Mugabe's
challenge to democracy.
Several African countries are known to be pressing behind the scenes
for a strong statement condemning the run-off. Other countries,
including South Africa, are calling for President Mugabe's ZANU-PF
party to open talks with the opposition to form a transitional