SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt â€“ Zimbabwe yesterday dismissed calls for a Kenya-style grand coalition government to resolve its election crisis, saying the way out would be decided the â€œZimbabwean wayâ€.
President Robert Mugabe, 84, was sworn in for a new five-year term on Sunday after a widely condemned election in a one-candidate presidential run-off that was boycotted by the opposition.
â€œKenya is Kenya. Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe. We have our own history of evolving dialogue and resolving political impasses the Zimbabwean way. The Zimbabwean way, not the Kenyan way. Not at all,â€ Mugabeâ€™s spokesman George Charamba told journalists at the African Union summit in Egypt.
â€œThe way out is a way defined by the Zimbabwe people, free from outside interference, and that is exactly what will resolve the matter.â€
Some African leaders had called for a power-sharing deal like the one that ended a deadly post-election crisis in Kenya earlier this year.
The former opposition leader who benefited from that deal, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has emerged in recent days as one of Mugabeâ€™s harshest critics on the continent.
But Charamba rejected Odingaâ€™s comments and accused him of being personally responsible for the violence in Kenya,
â€œI hope you realise that Prime Minister Raila Odinga's hands drip with blood, raw African blood,â€ he said.
â€œAnd that blood is not going to be cleansed by any amount of abuse of Zimbabwe. Not at all.â€
Charamba harangued Western nations who have called for Mugabe to step down.
â€œThey can go and hang. They can go to hang a million times. They have no claim on Zimbabwean politics, not at all,â€ he said, adding that Mugabe had a mandate from Zimbabwean voters.
â€œFive days haven't even expired, not even a week after a fresh manifest from the Zimbabwean people, and you are posing questions for retirement?â€
Zimbabwe dominated the AU summit as leaders were divided between those who wanted a strong statement and others who were reluctant to publicly censure Mugabe.
Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma told BBC radio earlier: â€œThe people of Zimbabwe have been denied their democratic rights. We should, in no uncertain terms, condemn what has happened.â€
African leaders, deeply reluctant to criticise each other publicly, have previously appeared over-awed by Mugabeâ€™s status as a hero of the anti-colonial struggle.
But the conduct of the election provoked unprecedented criticism from within Africa.
So far only Western powers have imposed financial and travel sanctions against the Zimbabwean leader and his top officials.
US President George W. Bush has called the election a sham and said he will ask for more sanctions, including an arms embargo.
China, which has long opposed UN sanctions, said yesterday Zimbabwe must solve its own problems and showed no eagerness to endorse the US moves.
The United Nations said Africaâ€™s credibility was at stake over Zimbabwe.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told reporters at the summit the AU must get its act together.
Prospects that the summit would give major new momentum to moves to end the crisis seemed to be receding before its scheduled end last night.