Correction to This Article
The article misspelled the name of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and incorrectly identified him as the president of the African Union. Kikwete is the chairman of the African Union.
Page 2 of 2   <      

African Leaders Plan to Discuss Mugabe's Future

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe is officially sworn in as president after a sharply criticized runoff vote that was boycotted by his only rival, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Liberia's delegation countered that Zimbabwean leaders were not the best people from whom to seek a true account of events in their country. Citing their own experience, the Liberians said their leaders were saying everything was fine right before they fled the rebels surrounding them, according to the two observers.

The leaders calling for tough action toward Mugabe's government had no guarantees of success Tuesday.

The predecessor of the African Union, the Organization of African Unity, long had a reputation as a dictators' club where leaders who had come to power in coups could for the most part avoid public criticism of their internal affairs by fellow African officials.

On Monday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the summit host, failed to include Zimbabwe among the list of countries that he told the summit had pressing problems for the African Union to confront.

Mubarak, who came to power in 1981, one year after Mugabe, last won reelection in 2005 and jailed both of his leading challengers after the race.

The African Union, founded in 2002, has been more assertive in confronting allegations of wrongdoing by African leaders within their own countries.

African Union sanctions in 2005 were instrumental in compelling Togo's new president to hold elections to approve him as successor to his father, the West African country's military-backed ruler for four decades. African Union members have challenged Sudan's leaders over Darfur and sent African troops to that region as well as Liberia, Congo and other nations.

Africa today overall is more stable and peaceful than in the 1990s, when it was bloodied by wars. Several countries are achieving stability and democratic change.

But many of the leaders who would consider any action against Mugabe on Tuesday took power through coups, and have held it by quashing the political opposition, as Mugabe did. They include Moammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader since the 1960s, who attended only the first hours of Monday's session. In orange robes, he sat next to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won an election after rebels and U.S. and African troops helped force out a longtime dictator.

The U.N. deputy secretary general, Asha-Rose Migiro, told the African leaders that Zimbabwe's crisis was the gravest threat facing southern Africa and urged them to confront it. "This is a moment of truth for regional leaders," she said.

<       2

© 2008 The Washington Post Company