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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 16:34 GMT
The Commonwealth's dilemma
Britain, backed by Australia and New Zealand, is pushing for tough action against Zimbabwe if Robert Mugabe is found to have used intimidation and violence to win the presidential elections. Commonwealth leaders have set up a body to consider suspending Zimbabwe, but it will not act before the elections. BBC News Online looks back at recent events.

4 March 2002

Government officials demonstrate a sample polling station
The government claims the elections will be fair

Commonwealth leaders agree not to take immediate punitive action against Zimbabwe - leaving some members disappointed. Under a deal reached at talks in Australia, the leaders will set up a three-member committee to decide possible action, based on the findings of the group's election observers deployed in the country.

 The BBC's Michael Peschardt reports

3 March 2002

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
Commonwealth leaders reached a compromise

Zimbabwe accuses Tony Blair of "disgraceful colonialism" for trying to have the country suspended from the Commonwealth. The attack by Zimbabwe's Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, came after Mr Blair warned the Commonwealth's reputation could be damaged if it did not take tough action against President Robert Mugabe.

 The BBC's James Robbins reports

18 February 2002

EU observers in Zimbabwe
Observers were prevented from doing their job

After a meeting in Brussels the European Union imposes sanctions on Zimbabwe's ruling elite and pulls its election observers out of the country. The measures come just weeks ahead of hotly contested presidential elections and rising political violence.

 The BBC's Rob Smith reports

17 February 2002

MDC poster
Mugabe faces a tough challenge from the MDC

The Zimbabwean Government forces the head of the European Union's election observer mission, Pierre Schori, to leave the country, raising the prospect of EU sanctions against President Mugabe's regime.

 The BBC's Claire Marshall reports

14 February 2002

Political rally in Zimbabwe
The opposition says intimidation will stop them winning
Thirty observers from the European Union are accredited to observe next month's presidential elections in Zimbabwe. But they only come from countries which Zimbabwe says are not biased and hostile to them - suggesting the row with the EU is not yet resolved.

 The BBC's Rachel Harvey reports

11 February 2002

Pierre Schori
The EU threatens sanctions if its monitors are not granted full access
The leader of a team of European Union election monitors arrives in Zimbabwe to observe the Presidential election due in March. Pierre Schori, a former Swedish Government minister, says he is confident of being accredited despite warnings from Zimbabwe that officials from some EU countries, including Sweden, would not be welcome.

 The BBC's Christen Thomson reports

31 January 2002

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
The UK pushed for Zimbabwe to be suspended
Commonwealth foreign ministers decide not to recommend that Zimbabwe be suspended from the organisation, but urge President Mugabe to end the political violence ravaging the country. The ministers also call on Zimbabwe to allow the immediate deployment of international observers ahead of presidential elections in March.

 The BBC's Bridget Kendall reports

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