|Author (Person)||Abbott, Dennis|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.8, No.8, 28.2.02, p7|
MEMBER states are being urged to release details of overseas funds held by Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and his closest political allies ahead of the presidential election on 9-10 March.
EU foreign ministers agreed on 18 February to freeze the assets of 20 leading government figures in Harare, but there are no plans at present to publish details of their holdings.
Now MEP Geoffrey van Orden is calling on the Council of Ministers and European Commission to detail the 'location and magnitude' of assets looted by Mugabe and his associates 'as a matter of urgency'.
Van Orden, vice-chairman of the Parliament's foreign affairs committee and UK Conservative spokesman on human rights, also voiced concern over this week's arrest of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on charges of treason, following allegations he plotted to assassinate Mugabe.
A secretly-filmed video, purporting to show Tsvangirai calling for Mugabe to be 'eliminated', is being repeatedly shown on Zimbabwean state TV.
However, independent experts from the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe believe the tape may have been doctored; the electronic timer on the footage moves back and forth, suggesting Tsvangirai's conversation has been cut in a way to incriminate him.
The tape was filmed by Dickens and Madsen, a Canadian consultancy headed by Israeli Ari Ben Menashe, who continues to work for Mugabe.
Two other leading members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, its secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube and agriculture spokesman Renson Gasela, have also been charged with treason, which carries the death penalty. Both deny wrongdoing.
Van Orden claimed the latest developments proved Mugabe was becoming desperate in his bid to cling to power. 'The grapevine news in Harare is that the presidential helicopter is on permanent 24-hour alert at State House, but it would be a long flight to Libya,' he added.
The MEP fears that despite the presence of local election monitors - many of whom are sponsored by the EU - the election count may be rigged.
He claimed that although the registration of voters had officially been concluded, the government was preparing a 'supplementary voters roll' in rural constituencies thought to be loyal to the ruling ZANU-PF regime.
'It is now vital that South Africa and other countries neighbouring Zimbabwe join the international community in taking a strong line to isolate Mugabe and his clique. In addition, the EU must now consider further measures in the event of a flawed outcome to the election.
'In particular, it should re-examine any outstanding economic assistance programmes, the drawing rights of Zimbabwe in international financial institutions, and other possible actions.
'The international community should make it absolutely clear that it will have no truck with a dictator elected on the back of the massive intimidation of the political opposition and a rigged electoral process,' he added.
Van Orden and Welsh Socialist Glenys Kinnock led the campaign for 'smart' sanctions to be imposed on Mugabe.
Member States are being urged to release details of overseas funds held by Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and his closest political allies ahead of the presidential election on 9-10 March 2002.
|Countries / Regions||Africa|