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Sunday, 25 August, 2002, 01:17 GMT 02:17 UK
Straw attacks 'pariah' Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe has ruined Zimbabwe, says Jack Straw
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has launched a scathing attack on the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

It comes just ahead of the World Development Summit in Johannesburg, which will be attended by Mr Mugabe and several British ministers.

Mr Straw said Mr Mugabe had turned Zimbabwe into a "pariah", by winning a "fraudulent election" before embarking on a campaign of "state-organised violence".


Human rights abuses, violations of the rule of law and economic illiteracy have made Zimbabwe an outcast

Jack Straw
His policies had caused the starvation of millions of people and there should be an end to the "madness", he said.

There have recently been signs that the UK plans to use the summit to step up pressure on other African countries to lean on Mr Mugabe to reform.

During the summit, Prime Minister Tony Blair will reportedly urge South African President Thabo Mbeki to back a plan to join the EU in its targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe's leaders.

Isolation plans

Downing Street on Saturday refused to confirm that Mr Blair would meet President Mbeki at the summit.

A guard at a white-owned farm
Production has stopped on many white-owned farms

Mr Straw, writing in the Observer, repeated that the UK is working with countries in the region to "isolate" Mr Mugabe's regime.

His statement follows a claim by the US last week - later softened - that it was working with countries such as South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana to isolate Mr Mugabe and force change in the region.

Mr Straw said Zimbabwe was a "self-made pariah, not a colonial victim".

"Robert Mugabe is leading his country to ruin. The decline in Zimbabwe's fortunes has been swift and devastating.

"In the name of land reform policies he is reducing his people to starvation.

"A fraudulent election earlier this year was characterised by murder and intimidation.

'Economic illiteracy'

"His continuing use of state-organised violence since then underlines his determination to hold on to power at all costs."

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
Mr Straw wants to isolate Zimbabwe to force change
He went on: "Human rights abuses, violations of the rule of law and economic illiteracy have made Zimbabwe an outcast regionally and globally."

Mr Blair is due to give an address to the Johannesburg summit just one hour before President Mugabe.

The opposition Conservative party last week called on Mr Blair to boycott Mr Mugabe's speech - but ministers said they should not allow the summit to be thus hijacked.

Zimbabwe has been gripped by a political and economic crisis since pro-government militants began invading white-owned farms in early 2000, in support of Mr Mugabe's campaign to redistribute farms to landless blacks.

'Western hypocrisy'

Hundreds of white farmers have refused to obey the government's recent orders to leave their land.

Aid agencies also say Mr Mugabe's land policy is threatening to worsen an already devastating food shortage in the country.

And they claim the government's land campaign has added to more than two years of political unrest, during which about 186 mostly opposition supporters have been killed in violence.

At least six million people - about half Zimbabwe's population - are threatened by famine, according to UN figures.

Mr Mugabe has accused Western nations of hypocrisy for criticising his land reform plans despite their own histories of racism.


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23 Aug 02 | Politics
23 Aug 02 | Politics
23 Aug 02 | Africa
22 Aug 02 | Politics
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