C’wealth won’t invite Pakistan, Zimbabwe to annual summit
JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan and Zimbabwe would not be invited to the Commonwealth’s annual summit in December, Secretary General Don McKinnon said on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s membership was suspended in the wake of General Pervez Musharraf’s October 1999 coup. McKinnon said Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth councils is unlikely to be lifted before the 54-member body’s summit in December.
Harare was suspended from the Commonwealth’s decision-making councils last year over its human rights record, and after President Robert Mugabe was re-elected in polls widely condemned as rigged. However, the continuing crisis in the southern African country will not be allowed to overshadow the Commonwealth Heads of Government and State Meeting (CHOGM), set for December 5 in the Nigerian capital Abuja, McKinnon told a press briefing here.
“Regarding Zimbabwe, ... (Commonwealth) countries have proposed that (the meeting) is all about development and democracy,” he said on the last day of a four-country African tour, adding however: “We don’t want the meeting overshadowed by Zimbabwe.”
McKinnon said the Commonwealth meeting under the banner of “Development and Democracy: Partnership for Peace and Prosperity” would look at how the two concepts could be reinforced “for the benefit of all Commonwealth citizens.”
McKinnon listed five far-reaching changes that would have to take place in Zimbabwe for its suspension to be reconsidered: national reconciliation and dialogue, the repeal or amendment of laws that prejudice press freedoms and peaceful assembly, an end to the systematic harassment of the political opposition and civil groups, active responses to recommendations made by Commonwealth election observer groups, and engagement on land reforms with the Commonwealth and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). —AFP