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Press Releases, 12/19/2008

Nordic ministers in joint statement: The misrule of Robert Mugabe must come to an end and respect for human rights be reinstalled in Zimbabwe

Press release 470/2008
19 December, 2008

The Nordic foreign ministers are appalled by the grave humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe which continues to deteriorate by the day. The foreign ministers have issued a statement which has been delivered to the member states of the SADC, including Zimbabwe, and some other African countries.

The Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have a long tradition of engagement with Zimbabwe and other countries in Southern Africa. Our strong partnership with countries in the region has historically been built on mutual trust, dialogue and the upholding of common values such as democratic principles and respect for human rights.

Against this background, the Foreign Ministers of the Nordic countries are appalled by the grave humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe which continues to deteriorate by the day. The suffering of the people of Zimbabwe has recently been further aggravated by the outbreak of cholera. This curable disease has already demanded far too many lives. The neighbouring countries and particularly adjacent communities are affected by the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe as the disease easily crosses borders. The Nordic countries will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of in Zimbabwe. The authorities in Zimbabwe alone bear the responsibility for the tragic situation the country is currently faced with.

Violence and intimidation against the critics of the regime in Zimbabwe continue unabated. The recent disappearance of human rights defender Jestina Mukoko and the arrest of several members of the MDC are frightening examples of the human rights violations. The Nordic countries are worried about the fate of Jestina Mukoko and others and strongly demand that universal human rights be respected in Zimbabwe.

The political agreement between Zanu-PF and MDC of 15 September 2008 gave rise to some hope for Zimbabwe’s future. Regrettably three months have passed without the creation of a coalition government. The Nordic countries call on the parties to reach an agreement without delay respecting the will of the people of Zimbabwe expressed in the elections of 29 March. Negotiations must be conducted in a sincere manner by all sides. In this respect the unilateral decisions to appoint new provincial governors and to confirm the appointment of the Governor of the Reserve Bank go against this spirit.

The Nordic countries call for an end to the misrule of Robert Mugabe and of the disrespect for democratic principles and human rights – which are core issues underlying the Nordic engagement and support for the liberation struggles in Southern Africa.

The Nordic countries reiterate the importance of strong, energetic and persistent involvement in efforts to solve the crisis by the SADC, the African Union and the UN. The Nordic countries remain committed to supporting the economic and social recovery of Zimbabwe aiming for the sustainable development of the country once a reliable and credible government has been formed and once tangible signals have been shown in key areas, in particular human rights.

Further information: Counsellor Selma Honkanen, Unit for Southern Africa, tel. +358 9 1605 6245
 

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Updated 12/19/2008

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