Speaking in the European Parliament's debate on Zimbabwe Geoffrey Van Orden MEP said the international community should give the country every support if free and fair democratic elections are assured.

Chairman of the Friends of Zimbabwe in the European Parliament, Mr Van Orden, was a leading campaigner against Mugabe's tyranny. He wrote to Emmerson Mnangagwa immediately before he became President, urging him to initiate the much-needed political, economic and social changes to set Zimbabwe on a fresh course.

Mr Van Orden said: “We have yet to receive a reply from President Mnangagwa but we are optimistic for the future of Zimbabwe. We should give him the benefit of the doubt. Once we are assured that free and fair democratic elections will take place this year we should come forward with a package of electoral assistance to help guarantee their credibility.

“The international community should also be prepared to offer major economic assistance. I would like to think the United Kingdom would take a lead in calling for a donors’ conference at the appropriate time. This is another example where the United Kingdom must put fresh energy into its global role.

“Revitalisation of the Commonwealth should also be a key objective for Britain.  The possibility of Zimbabwe re-joining the Commonwealth is under active consideration – I very much hope that the Zimbabwean government will commit itself to this and that it will be invited to send observers to the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in London on 19 April.

“But we need to know that the Zimbabwean authorities are truly committed to a new path.  That means, for example, immediate action against political intimidation. Opposition politician Joyce Mujuru and her supporters were injured by ZANU-PF thugs on their way to a political meeting in the Glen Norah suburb of Harare just 4 days ago. Violence and intimidation has to stop.

“At this time, let us also put on record our admiration for Morgan Tsvangirai, who as MDC leader campaigned over so many years in the face of political violence, for democratic change in Zimbabwe – Morgan is seriously ill and receiving treatment in South Africa. We send our best wishes to him for a strong recovery. There could be no better tribute than for Zimbabwe to be firmly back on the road to democracy, freedom and the rule of law”.


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