Odinga calls for AU troops in Zimbabwe as Khama lays it all to elders

Nairobi – Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday called for the deployment of African Union peacekeepers to Zimbabwe to bring President Robert Mugabe back into line.

"Because there is no legitimate government in Zimbabwe, the AU should consider sending a peacekeeping force," he said. "This is what is going to send a strong signal to one Mr Robert Mugabe."

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, Odinga was reacting to Zimbabwe’s refusal to grant visas to senior peace campaigners, including former US president Jimmy Carter and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

"As you all know, Mugabe was a freedom fighter who spent many years in the jail of former prime minister Ian Smith, but I don’t believe that when you are a freedom fighter you acquire a title deed to own the nation," Odinga said.

Odinga owes his job largely to Annan, who mediated a power-sharing solution to the chaos that broke out after Kenya President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of disputed elections in December 2007.

The Kenyan prime minister has repeatedly chided Mugabe’s regime since Zimbabwe’s own post-election crisis broke out earlier this year but saved some criticism for the rest of the continent’s leaders.

"Recently, he was in Kampala attending an African leaders’ meeting and you will see that no-one expressed a word about the situation in Zimbabwe," Odinga said.

"To many African leaders, the situation in Zimbabwe has returned back to normalcy. But no wonder this is happening, it is because a number of these leaders carry the same baggage like that of Mugabe."

Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai led Mugabe in round one of the March 29 presidential election but withdrew before the second round, citing a campaign of intimidation by the veteran leader’s camp.

The ensuing crisis appeared to have been solved with an accord on September 15 but the two rivals have since failed to form a unity government. – AFP