July 1st, 2008 09:00 EST
Mugabe surrogate says "Go hang" to International Community
A spokesman for Zimbabwe`s President Robert Mugabe says Western leaders can "go hang" because they have no right to criticize the country`s elections.
The comment by spokesman George Charamba Tuesday comes as leaders at the African Union summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh try to forge a common response to the political turmoil that has gripped Zimbabwe.
Western leaders and the United Nations have rejected the results of Friday`s election, and have called on African leaders to do the same, saying they were neither free nor fair. But Mr. Mugabe received a warm welcome Monday from his peers.
The summit is expected to consider a resolution on Zimbabwe today.
Several African countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Senegal are known to be pressing behind the scenes for a strong statement condemning the runoff election.
Other countries, including South Africa, are calling for President Mugabe`s ZANU-PF party to open talks with the opposition to form a transitional government.
However, while speaking to reporters, Zimbabwe presidential spokesman Charamba seemed to rule out any power-sharing agreement.
He also lashed out at one of Zimbabwe`s most vocal critics, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, saying Mr. Odinga`s hands "drip with blood," referring to the fact that the Kenyan leader took office through a power-sharing agreement only after an outbreak of violence that killed at least 15-hundred people.
Zimbabwe was not scheduled to be the focus of the two-day African Union summit, but the runoff controversy has dominated conversation among the leaders.
AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Algeria`s Ramtane Lamamra, says that while many Western countries are calling for sanctions, that may not be the best course of action.
He says the AU is trying to focus on ways to help unite Zimbabwe for the good of its people.
Lamamra also rejects allegations that the union lacks the political will to confront tough issues like Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai today left the Dutch Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he had taken refuge after dropping out of the election last week because of violence against his supporters.
An embassy spokesman says the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader now feels safe enough to return to his home.
The spokesman added the embassy will stay in touch with the opposition leader, and that he is welcome to return.
The MDC says pro-Mugabe militants killed dozens and injured thousands of party supporters in the run-up to the vote.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.