Letter to the Clerk from the Head of Parliamentary
Relations and Devolution Department, Foreign and Commonwealth
In my letter of 4 September, I promised to write
again following the meeting of a group of Commonwealth Foreign
Ministers in Abuja on 6 September to discuss Zimbabwe.
Nigeria's Foreign Minister, Sule Lamido, chaired
the meeting. The other participants were: Ministers from Canada,
Kenya and South Africa; the Jamaican Attorney General; the Australian
High Commissioner to the UK; two Ministers from Zimbabwe, representing
Foreign Affairs and Land; and the Commonwealth Secretary General.
The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Africa attended for
President Obasanjo hosted a breakfast for all
heads of delegation. Unfortunately the Zimbabwean delegation was
unable to get there due to trans-African flight schedules. But
President Obasanjo was clear, as we were, that the ensuing meeting
had to address all issues of international concern, and should
not focus solely on land reform. He also joined the main meeting
at several points, following the Zimbabwean's arrival, and was
instrumental in the outcome.
During the meeting, delegations expressed their
serious concern over political violence, as well as violence on
the commercial farms; the state of the Zimbabwean economy and
the adverse effect it was having on the region; intimidation of
the independent media and the judiciary; and other human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe over the recent months.
Under pressure from the participants, Zimbabwe
signed up to a number of specific commitments, including:
no further occupation of farms, and
removing squatters from all non-designated properties;
restoring the rule of law to the
land process and re-engaging with UNDP on a land reform programme;
and taking firm action against violence and intimidation.
The Foreign Secretary restated our willingness
to support a land reform programme that was transparent, just
and sustainable and in line with the principles agreed with international
donors and the Government of Zimbabwe at the 1998 Land Conference.
I enclose a copy of Nigeria's opening statement,
delivered in front of the international press, and a copy of the
meeting's Conclusions agreed by all participants.
There is no reference to election observers
in the agreement, despite the fact that the meeting pushed Zimbabwe
hard to agree to them. President Obasanjo agreed to follow up
on this point directly with President Mugabe. We will also continue
to press the Zimbabweans to accept observers.
Foreign Minister Lamido flew to Harare on 7
September to deliver the Conclusions to President Mugabe who has
since told the press that he has agreed to abide by the Abuja
agreement. We will monitor the situation closely between now and
the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane on 6
October. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group will discuss
Zimbabwe at its meeting held immediately prior to CHOGM, so that
it can make appropriate recommendations to Heads of Government.
Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Department,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
13 September 2001