By Jennifer M. Haralambides
HARARE, Zimbabwe – Gordon Brown said that significant reforms are still needed by the national unity government in Harare before they can be readmitted to the Commonwealth.
In 2003, President Robert Mugabe resigned Zimbabwe’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations in protest of their continued suspension over human rights issues.
Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister, has raised the possibility of readmitting Harare while he was on his way to the summit of Commonwealth nations in Trinidad and Tobago that opened on Friday. This would be the first time in years the Commonwealth leaders were scheduled to debate whether they should allow Zimbabwe back into the fifty three member club.
Brown said that although they are aware of the progress made by the unity government, Britain remains concerned about the rate at which the reform is taking place. In an article for the Zimbabwe Independent Newspaper, Brown was quoted saying that the power-sharing government had made some recognized achievements such as raising the living standards of local residents, and taming of hyper-inflation.
The next step should be for the Commonwealth to make an offer of readmission that is conditional on the Zimbabwean government’s fulfillment of the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) on power-sharing. The agreement was intended to lead to a new constitution by August 2010 and free elections.
“I sincerely hope that by the time of our next meeting in 2011, Zimbabwe will have made enough progress for us to welcome them back into the Commonwealth,” said Brown.
Brown wants to see progress on reforms in security, justice, and the economy. He would also like to see Zimbabwe embrace a “vibrant free press.” Moreover, the most important implementation Brown is hoping for is a genuinely free and fair election.
News reports quoted Didymus Mutasa, the Zimbabwe’s Minister of State, saying that Zimbabwe did not want want to rejoin the commonwealth. Also, some skeptics say that Mr. Mugabe is using the illusion of a power-sharing relationship with Mr. Tsvangirai as a way of re-establishing himself in the international community as statesman.
For more information, please see:
The Sydney Morning Herald – Mugabe’s Fate – 29 November 2009
Telegraph.co.uk – Robert Mugabe: Will Zimbabwe be Let Back Into Commonwealth? – 28 November 2009
Reuters – Brown Hopes Zimbabwe Can Rejoin Commonwealth – 27 November 2009
VOA – Britain’s Gordon Brown Moots Readmission of Zimbabwe to Commonwealth – 27 November 2009