Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says he is pulling his country out of the Commonwealth with immediate effect.
He said he did not accept the decision made at the Abuja summit, to maintain Zimbabwe's suspension indefinitely.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the 54-nation Commonwealth last year after President Mugabe was accused of rigging his own re-election.
A group of African states wanted the suspension lifted, arguing that dialogue is the only way forward while other members say Zimbabwe can't be re-admitted unless it introduces democratic reforms.
How should the international community deal with Zimbabwe? Can the Commonwealth influence the behaviour of its members?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
The Commonwealth is not being fair on Zimbabwe. It is Mugabe as an individual they should punish, not the innocent people of Zimbabwe. Why don't Britain and USA overthrow him the way they did to Saddam. He is even worse than Saddam!
Donnell Chinave, England
Mugabe made an absolutely right decision to quit the Commonwealth because it is an organisation that, unfortunately, is being run along racial lines and hypocrisy. Poor member states are being coerced overtly and covertly to follow C/wealth values as they are being interpreted from the perspective of white "Big Brothers" of the organization - Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Others particularly, black member states are being forced to accept "Junior Brother status" through a lot of dirty diplomacy that include aid. This is what is destroying the Commonwealth.
In the eyes of Tony Blair Mugabe committed the sin of seizing land from white settlers and giving it to his landless fellow Africans. But in doing so he was absolutely right because, the British government, since the inception of the Commonwealth has not committed itself seriously to resolving the colonial imbalances it caused in its former colonies. I wish all African leaders would follow his footsteps.
Nyamita Matonjeni, Zimbabwe
The Commonwealth was created as a collection of independent nations who were once British Colonies - in order to help guide the first steps of these new countries and to provide guidance and help to them as they made their own way in the world. It is a body of membership open to any nation that seeks to modernise and improve the lot of the common man, under the umbrella of just law and democracy. Why would Mugabe be interested in being a part of such an organisation, and why would we want him there? It is now for the people of Zimbabwe to decide where their future lies.
Iain Howe, Netherlands (UK expat)
Unfortunately when you witness what is going on in Zimbabwe you feel hopeless. As you think that there is light at the end of the tunnel, the one person, the so called "liberator" (isn't this how his African comrades see him?) does all he can in his power (which he unfortunately still has quite a lot of) to assure that this country goes to hell before he does.
How could the Commonwealth deal if not by suspending Zimbabwe further, until some positive results would be produced? As long as the Heads of the neighbouring countries will continue to support Mugabe, I'm afraid the future will not only be bleak for this Country but also for the rest of Africa.
The matter of the fact is that Zimbabwe at the moment is hell for more than 80% of its population (and an insignificant part of it consists of whites).
Robert Gabriel Mugabe is our source of pride. There is no better qualified person to deliver to the Zimbabwean people their dignity than Pres Mugabe. Why you may ask. You need a man with a stiff back to salvage your belongings from the west. C'mon folks you know as well as I do that ownership of the means of production, land being top of the list bestows pride, dignity, both political and economic freedom, respect and above all independence. Do you have any quarrel with that? That's what everybody wants isn't it? So give Mugabe a break please.
Pelontle Brewer Mosweu, Botswana
It is unfortunate that Mugabe still does not believe that he is the problem of Zimbabwe. The hope that was Zimbabwe in 1980 has become a disaster of unimaginable magnitude. Zimbabwe can still be the land of promise it was in 1980 but that must be after President Mugabe has gone.
Ebisike A.O, Abuja Nigeria
I think Mugabe has made the greatest mistake by pulling out of the Commonwealth. He should know that the world is a web which every nation is part of and the commonwealth is part of it. So, he can't be alone at all.
Davies Zinnass, Nigeria
The only reason why the so called African leaders support Mugabe is because they are all the same. They muzzle the people, reward cronies, loot the country and pretend to be statesmen. It's an African tragedy.
A Yohannes, Canada
Mugabe has had his time. He's now too old, too sick mentally and physically and too scared. He is acting like a trapped and wounded animal - lashing out at all and any who may threaten his position.
If he had followed the Great Mandela's footsteps and let a successor carry on from his early success he would have gone down in history as a global icon of freedom and fair play. Now he's going to end his days violently and be remembered as a foolish old man in the shadows of Amin, and Ceausescu.
As for the Commonwealth - well it's passed it sell by date now anyway and should be disbanded and fade away into the past. We have no oil or other coveted resources like Iraq - so no superpower will bother to help us.
The people didn't get the land in the end anyway, so now they're hungry, angry and need change to simply survive. The people of Zimbabwe are the only ones who can save the country for them and the future generations. Pamberi na Zimbabwe.
Trevor Jongwe, Chinhoyi
A point of information to our African brothers and sisters who voice their support for Mugabe: We're not calling for his removal because of his anti-colonial stance or economic mismanagement (both are political points on which only the people of Zimbabwe must be the judge). No, we're calling for his removal because of the 20,000 dead Ndebele, who were massacred during the early 80s.
Robert Sharp, Edinburgh, UK
I believe in the just ruling made by the Commonwealth. Why would a leader who has failed to uphold his country's constitution be allowed to lie to the world?
Zimbabweans are in reality under siege, we cannot exercise basic rights and we shudder why other African leaders are so eager to have Mugabe and not the people to be a member of the Commonwealth. Is it that they would want to have the same sympathy when they happen to one day practise dictatorship in their countries?
To all responsible world leaders it is high time dictatorship is eradicated we have suffered enough.
Amos Phiri, Zimbabwe
There are two hungry wolves inside every one of us, so the old tale goes. The first wolf is proud, unmerciful, commits atrocious things, malicious, corrupt, knowledge to do evil, and without affection. The other wolf within has peace, joy, love, working for the good of others, respect, mature. Which one wins? That depends on which one you feed. Zimbabwe, it's time you feed your own destiny.
Likwa Moyo, USA
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association and cannot take the place of a security body in a world that has thus far shunned a democratic global system of security. No country on the planet can withstand the united action of the rest of the world's nations. This is the only global system that will give everyone, from the best armed soldier to the most fragile baby, peace. Can we start with a surrender of the veto power in the Security Council by those who are still celebrating victory in World War Two? To achieve peace we must end war mentality.
Ndumiso Dlamini, South Africa
Odd how many Africans living in safety in other Commonwealth countries choose to rubbish the organisation which in no small part creates that security.
Viva Mugabe, how I wish we had more men in Africa like him. God bless Zimbabwe!
Lubengu Joe, Zambia
I think that Zimbabweans must rise up and kick Mugabe out of their land now. He has refused to understand that his people are seriously suffering and that his continued stay in office will definitely not help them as a nation. As such, I implore other African leaders who cannot see beyond their nose on this issue by siding him, to have a sensibly and logical understanding of this all important issue.
Alexander Marlin, Nigeria
Mugabe should realise that isolation is not the same as sovereignty. No country on earth can go it alone. He should step down because he has been an abject failure as a leader and an abuser of human rights. His unilateral decision to pull out of the Commonwealth without even consulting the Cabinet, let alone Parliament, shows what an arrogant tyrant he truly is.
Whether we like it or not Mugabe has law on his side. Not because what he is doing is legal but because Britain has had its fingers burnt by Iraq. It cannot call for regime change at the UN simply because it is illegal under the UN charter and I note that when Britain needs an ally, where is the US? There is simply no way of imposing a military solution on Mugabe. But we should be quite clear on the matter we should be applying for UN sanctions on Mugabe's regime with a view to creating the civil disorder that unseats him, then prosecute him in the Court of Human rights
Tony, Welling Kent
The Commonwealth is a good organisation fighting for human rights, education, Democracy, etc, as well as providing a ground for trade. Mugabe is nothing other than a dictator our for his own interests. Perhaps his reasons are worthy and his methods ill-advised, however one thing is clear, before his so called land reforms Zimbabwe was a financially self sustaining country. Now unemployment stands at over 65% and inflation at over 600%. He has laid down laws which make it almost impossible for anyone to oppose him and is creating what can only be described as a dictatorship! The members of the Commonwealth were right to continue the ban and good on them for standing up for the rights of the common Zimbabweans.
President Mugabe, you have my support. It is time African leaders should wake up and define their destiny. Commonwealth or whatever will not do that. Colonialism has done more harm to African development than any other modern crime. Not only that, it is the same colonial masters that are collaborating with some African leaders who stash away stolen funds in their banks. I hope other African leaders/countries would emulate Mugabe and pull out of the deadwood called Commonwealth.
Sylvester I. Okoro, Usaka-Ukwu City, Nigeria/USA
Economic sanctions, cultural and sporting boycotts all proved effective in ending apartheid in South Africa. Mugabe is systematically oppressing all who oppose him with the exact same methods and mechanisms deployed by the white regime we in South Africa are glad to be rid of. Why should the international community respond any differently to Zimbabwe? Or are we to accept that black rulers should be given more latitude to abuse simply because their victims are the same colour as the tyrant?
Cliff Smith, South Africa
So be it - let the man do what he will. No one has made any effort to stop anything he has done since the 1980s, so why stop now? The country can only get worse and more people can only die. Why now the sudden loud speakers on the issues? Too much too late.
The expulsion is one step in the right direction. This regime has let down a lot of young lives in Zimbabwe and has reduced a once prosperous nation to rubble. They are solely to blame for all this but they point fingers at everyone else but themselves. Laws have since been put in place to kill off the little that remains of democracy. Vote rigging, serious as it may be, aside, this regime is incompetent.
I'm utterly disappointed that the world has afforded the old man a place to air his long and venomous speeches at the world summit that's on-going in Switzerland. He sounds like he is fighting for 'his people' when in actual fact what he is doing on the ground is the opposite. Help us change governance in this country.
MW, Harare, Zimbabwe
If I was a leader, I would have done the same as Mr Mugabe has decided - to get Zimbabwe out of this group of neo colonialists and their African puppets. The Commonwealth has nothing more than promoting neo colonialism. This organ, like the UN, has nothing to offer people in developing countries. With the global situation, its main function is to protect western interests all over the World. They are going to destroy all of us using their organizations. Why don't we all leave them and strengthen our African Unity?
Charles Rwezaula Richard, Tanzania
Mugabe, like many African leaders, has two things on mind. Money and power. He is corrupted beyond imagination, using the power he has to serve one man: Mugabe. Who cares if he is in or out the Commonwealth? His country is bleeding and shredded into pieces. He feels no pain. It is the Zimbabweans that are paying high price. My heart goes out for half of the universe nations that are under dictatorships one way or the other. The names, languages and nationalities vary but one thing remains: the sufferings of all these unfortunate humans.
Ronda, UK, UAE
The Commonwealth needs to examine the human rights records of all member states and suspend them accordingly. Several African Commonwealth states have leaders who came to power through flawed elections, and have human rights records that are arguably worse than Zimbabwe's. I wonder if Zimbabwe was not suspended because the President rightfully seized land which was acquired from Zimbabweans by force and gave it back to the Zimbabwean people.
Of what use is the Commonwealth in the first place? Personally, I think it should be rubbished. How can we as Africans continue to respect and bow down to a queen of a foreign land? We have our own traditional kings and queens and we don't even respect them that much, and giving the ultimate respect to Elizabeth because she's white. This is a shame.
Jibola, Nigerian in Canada
The issue of land redistribution is a thorny issue but was handled poorly by Mr. Mugabe. In civilized politics, he could have achieved his aim using the legal apparatus available to him without driving his country into chaos. All he needed to do was to make parliament (which his party controls anyway) pass a land property tax law with step-wise and escalating tax liability as the size of one's land increases (squeezing by the book!). Tax breaks will be available to those who relinquish portions of their land to the government. I guess African leaders prefer to achieve aims by use of force and not by brains.
A Osei, USA
Zimbabwe's exit marks the beginning of the gradual end of the Commonwealth. What do the former colonies of Britain gain from the Commonwealth? Mugabe has shown the way and others will follow, but how soon?
Hughes Wurakomatitu, Zimbabwe
I appreciated President Mugabe decision for pulling out his country, because there is nothing to gain for being Commonwealth member.
Abiel Kon, Canada
As a son of Rhodesian born immigrants, me, and my whole family have watched with great sadness as Zimbabwe has been destroyed economically and politically under Mugabe. It comes as no surprise that Zimbabwe has been kicked out of the commonwealth. I feel there is no hope for Zimbabwe under Mugabe, there's been no hope in 10 years. The international community and commonwealth can put restrictions on Mugabe but they won't work. As long as Mugabe is in power, we can't do anything that will be effective in making Zimbabwe great again.
Mugabe like most African leaders is power drunk. It's time for a power-change in Zimbabwe as the old adage says "water left for too long in the flask stinks" likewise Mugabe and his government, his actions are a violations of the fundamental rights of the people of Zimbabwe and it's time. I agree with the Commonwealth suspension though it is at the expense of the good people of Zimbabwe.
Akua Afriyie, Ghana
If he is pulling out, so be it. On a second note, I would have thought that a major decision like that should have been taken by the country's parliament. Zimbabwe is greater than Mugabe and his party. As an African, he might have a rethink and rescind his decision after pressure from big brother' Obasanjo of Nigeria.
Akinlolu Oluwamuyiwa, Lagos, Nigeria
Mugabe is right in pulling his country out of the Commonwealth and I think other countries should also evaluate membership to an organisation that refuses to engage or tolerate the views of developing countries. What is the use of the Commonwealth in any case? The Commonwealth has become a dinosaur.
Themba Nkala, South Africa
Leaving the Commonwealth is the least of Zimbabweans' problems. Mugabe is. Get rid of him and the Zimbabweans can start to rebuild their lives.
Wairimu, Kenyan in the UK
Good riddance! Zimbabwe has no place at any international gathering. Expelling him from all international forums would perhaps make the people realise that enough is enough and up rise to topple him like in Georgia.
Gordon Mbongwe, Cape Town
We Zimbabweans really know what we need. We need a regime change, full stop. Let's call a spade a spade, MUGABE AND COMPANY NEEDED TO GO YESTERDAY. We don't care about Commonwealth membership etc. That does not change our situation. Mugabe is not the legitimate ruler of Zimbabwe, so all he says and does has nothing to do with Zimbabweans. Please Mr Bush, help us to remove this evil dictator and don't bother about the UN, Commonwealth and other talk shops.
Joseph Chibvo, UK
The Commonwealth is not being sincere, they said the elections in Nigeria were not free nor fair but they could do nothing . They did not make a big fuss out of it because that would have disrupted the white members continuous attack on Zimbabwe whose real sin is driving the white farmers away from the land.
If the Commonwealth is genuine in its desire for democracy and fairness then it should have done the same thing on Nigeria and Tony Blair could not even have talked about the return of Pakistan. I think Mugabe has done the right thing to get out of it and I wish SA, Mozambique and Zambia did something other than just empty words in exposing the paternal approach of the white members.
Zvese Marara, Norway
Its very unfortunate that the aging dictator and his ZANU-PF thugs have decided to quit the club without a national consensus. His latest move shows the man has no regard for democracy. The decision should have been made in parliament not at a party forum.
Mugabe has done nothing wrong to the people of Zimbabwe, in fact he is just trying to correct the colonial imbalances created by the white regime period.
Silver Bhebe, Zimbabwe, Chinhoyi
What is there to gain by being in the Commonwealth anyway? We in Ireland left it long ago and have never looked back. Who wants to be bowing to some foreign countries queen? So much for all this so called "patriotism" being bounded around the planet. and as for Mugabe, well his card is marked and the people never forget... no matter how long it takes.
Mugabe is a poor leader and visionary. He is selfish as seen by the fact that the majority of forcibly-taken farms are not in the hands of the black populace but in the hands of the ruling elite.
It is unfortunate that some African leaders support Mugabe for his dictatorship and mistreating his own people. Do not promote his silly and unreasonable behaviour, instead talk to him and let him see sense. If you are not wise enough to make him understand, please stop it.
The President of Zambia is a qualified and respected lawyer and now that he is a politician, he has changed all what people respected him for. He is now trying to follow the dictators of tomorrow who are looking forward to stay in power for the rest of their lives.
Mugabe is Zambia's neighbour but that does not mean it should support every rubbish he does.
Gudel, Zambian in UK
If Tony Blair had done his job properly and gone after Mugabe as well as Saddam Hussain, this would never have happened.
Jared Griffiths, UK
Mugabe is an old corrupt leader whose time as Zimbabwe's leader had run out years ago. Come on, does he think he is the only one capable of ruling Zimbabwe? I am very sure there are millions of Zimbabweans that are a lot more intelligent than Mugabe and would do a better job at leading the country.
I don't know why one man is allowed to make the lives of millions miserable. This is unfair and simply unacceptable.
Mugabe's withdrawal from the Commonwealth is a sign of his state of mind. He now believes he is above criticism, that he is above all Zimbabweans. His land reform policy was nothing more than a populist move for perpetuate his grip on the poor citizens of Zimbabwe.
Blaming the country's problems on colonialism is an insult to the entire population of the country, and the rest of Africa. He should, and must, go.
Muhammed, Lagos, Nigeria