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Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 5:31 PM; Subject: RE: ZIMBABWE (in response to a letter calling for action by the UK govt.)

Dear Karen

Thank you for letter about the escalating violence in Zimbabwe. I do understand your concerns. Many people in Britain, some with friends and family in Zimbabwe, are deeply worried by President Mugabe's decision to inflame the situation by encouraging mob rule, and the British Government's dithering is aggravating the problem.

Several Commonwealth countries are neighbours of Zimbabwe with a deep interest in restoring stability as quickly as possible with the least provocation. The Commonwealth has previously supplied elections observers and is in a good position to hold Mr Mugabe to his word to hold free and fair elections. Yet so far the Foreign Secretary has preferred to involve the EU as a substitute for effective action.

I have written to the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook twice urging him to take action on Zimbabwe. We have called for:
* Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth until such a time as President Mugabe holds fair elections;

* The freezing of President Mugabe's and his cronies' assets;
* An end to UK Government aid to President Mugabe;
* The recall of British military advisors and an end to the supply of military spare parts, which enable Zimbabwe to fight in the Congo.
These are tightly focused actions aimed at limiting the freedom Mr Mugabe's regime, not the people of Zimbabwe, whose right to free speech and democracy we totally support. The Government here must take the measures we have outlined to ensure that the growing crisis in Zimbabwe does not turn into acatastrophe.
Yours sincerely

  The Rt Francis Maude MP
  Shadow Foreign Secretary

Attached :

This is the text of my letter to the Foreign Secretary:
The Rt Hon Robin Cook MP
Secretary of State
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
18th April 2000

Dear Foreign Secretary
As the situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, with the rule of law clearly having broken down, it is time that Britain and the Commonwealth took firm action against President Mugabe and his corrupt regime. 

On Sunday, a white farmer was murdered in cold blood, and today we hear the tragic news that another has been shot dead. Vicious beatings continue and officials of the Movement for Democratic Change have been assassinated, in what appear to be acts of calculated intimidation by Mugabe's gangs of thugs. Have you considered the possibility that he could be seeking deliberately to escalate the crisis in Zimbabwe so that he can declare a state of emergency and postpone elections indefinitely?

You have said that firm action against Mugabe will make him a 'martyr' and entrench his support in Zimbabwe. But your policy of abject inaction - confirmed only today by your own Minister Peter Hain, addressing the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has already been shown to have failed. How many more farmers or democracy activists must be martyred, what further deterioration in the rule of law and what escalation of violence is necessary before you do actually take some action to halt this intolerable situation? How much longer are you prepared to sit on your hands?
So far, all you have done is raise the issue of Zimbabwe in the EU General Affairs Council. This is entirely the wrong forum for such discussions - it  is hard to imagine anything more calculated to entrench Mugabe's position than the spectacle of all the former colonial powers ganging together against him. The right vehicle for action is clearly the Commonwealth -  the family of nations that includes Zimbabwe. 

Why do you not initiate the sending of a high level group of Commonwealth leaders to Zimbabwe to try to persuade Mugabe that the rule of law must be upheld, that the illegal occupation of farms must end, and the intimidation and murder of pro-democracy activists must stop. Meanwhile, discussions should begin within the Commonwealth into the possibility of Zimbabwe's suspension. Investigations should be made into tracing and freezing the international assets of Mugabe and his cronies  and all British and EU aid which goes directly to Mugabe's government should be stopped immediately.

In the light of the seriousness of this issue I would appreciate a swift response to my letter, which for the same reason I have issued to the press.

Yours sincerely
   The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP 
  Shadow Foreign Secretary

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