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SADC disagrees with Commonwealth over Zimbabwee

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Tuesday voiced its concern over the Commonwealth's decision to maintain Zimbabwe's suspension, the South African news agency SAPA reported. A South African Foreign Affairs Department statement on behalf of Lesotho, as chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, noted that "as we warned, it has resulted in Zimbabwe withdrawing from the Commonwealth." The statement said: "We wish to voice our strong disagreement with the decision not to allow Zimbabwe back into the Councils of the Commonwealth, as reflected in the Abuja CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting] Statement on Zimbabwe". "We are concerned that the matter of Zimbabwe's participation seems to have been prejudged, considering the pronouncements made by some members prior to the finalisation of this matter," the statement noted, adding that the decision would do nothing to assist the people of Zimbabwe overcome their present difficulties. "The present situation in Zimbabwe calls for engagement by the Commonwealth, and not isolation and further punishment. We reaffirm our determination to continue to assist the people of Zimbabwe. "We also wish to express our displeasure and deep concern with the dismissive, intolerant and rigid attitude displayed by some members of the Commonwealth during the deliberations. "The Commonwealth has always operated on the basis of consensus. We fear that this attitude is destined to undermine the spirit that makes the Commonwealth a unique family of nations. This development does not augur well for the future of the Commonwealth," the statement read. Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth following presidential elections in March 2002, which the 54-member organisation deemed unfair and marred by violence. That suspension was reaffirmed at the weekend at the Commonwealth summit in Abuja, Nigeria, and prompted Harare to announce it was quitting the organisation.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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