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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 15:31 GMT
McKinnon: I have failed on Zimbabwe
Don McKinnon
Don McKinnon: Zimbabwe situation 'extremely sad'
Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon says his efforts to engage with Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe have failed.

McKinnon made his admission to BBC World Television's HARDtalk programme, in an interview ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Nigeria, beginning 5 December 2003.

I have failed. We deserve an A for effort and a D-minus for achievement.
Commonwealth General Secretary Don McKinnon
He said the situation in Zimbabwe is "extremely sad". Crops have not gone into the ground as they should have, and workers were not getting the land they hoped for. "There's a great deal of uncertainty about land ownership."

"I have failed. We deserve an A for effort and a D-minus for achievement. We just haven't got anywhere and [Zimbabwe] made it clear they just don't want to talk to me."

However, he says African leaders believe there is a way of dealing with the situation.

"They know this is a difficult one. They know they are dealing with a senior leader in Africa."

He told the BBC'S Jon Sopel that the Commonwealth is alone in trying to deal with the issue of Zimbabwe.

"I don't mind you beating up the Commonwealth for what we haven't done. What are other international organisations doing? There are no [United Nations] Security Council resolutions on Zimbabwe."

Pakistan 'over the main hurdles'

The other most problematic issue facing the Commonweath Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is Pakistan's continuing suspension from the Commonwealth.

McKinnon says Commonwealth Foreign Ministers will meet at the CHOGM to discuss Pakistan's suspension and possibly adjudicate on it.

He had a positive message for Pakistan, saying "the major hurdles have been cleared".

"There are two fairly minor issues left for Pakistan to deal with - nothing like having whole elections or anything like that. If they can deal with those I think you can just about see the green light."

McKinnon said one of those issues is that President Pervez Musharraf is head of the army as well as President, and he needs to get Pakistan's parliament to endorse that.

HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 04:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 19:30 GMT and 00:30 GMT

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 04:30 and 23:30



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