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General News
Kufuor Faces Protests 3/16/2007
... over AU silence on Zimbabwe
London -- The chairman of the African Union, Ghana''s President John Kufuor, was challenged here Wednesday on the pan-African body''s response to the regime of Zimbabwe''s veteran President Robert Mugabe.
Kufuor was speaking after his speech at London international affairs think-tank Chatham House was disrupted when four demonstrators in quick succession stood up to denounce the AU''s failure to condemn Mugabe outright.

"Please don''t think Africa is not concerned. Africa is very much concerned," he said.

"I think you should all assume that all these institutions, the African Union, we mean well.

"Perhaps we haven''t exhausted the means to give us the handle on the situation so it can be restored to normalcy."

Kufuor added that there were "various ways" in which African countries were trying to influence Mugabe.

The Ghanaian leader did not mention Zimbabwe in his speech, which focused on Ghana''s history since independence from Britain 50 years ago, despite the embarrassing interventions.

"As chairman of the African Union, we call on you to condemn Zimbabwe," shouted one protester, wearing handcuffs, before being escorted off the premises.

"Mugabe is killing people and our African leaders are not doing anything," another said, to a ripple of applause.

But during a question-and-answer session afterwards, Kufuor added that the African Union was "uncomfortable" with the situation in Zimbabwe, which he described as "embarrassing."

"The African Union wants to do something but it''s only two years old and there are many challenges confronting it," he said, citing problems in the troubled western Darfur region of Sudan and Somalia.

"I know that presidents like (Olusegun) Obasanjo (of Nigeria) and (Thabo) Mbeki (of South Africa) tried desperately to exercise some influence for the better but they came against stiff resistance."

But his comments were criticised by protestors from an anti-Mugabe group, Free Zim Youth, holding a small but noisy demonstration outside Chatham House.

"Work is being done behind the scenes but no fruit has yielded," said Sibanda Gugulethu.

"We''re here today because Mugabe was in Ghana last week (for the country''s independence celebrations). Kufuor was wining and dining with Mugabe."
Kufuor is on a state visit to Britain and met Queen Elizabeth II as well as Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday.
The leader of Zimbabwe''s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, is currently in intensive care with a suspected skull fracture sustained while in police custody.


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