Mahathir to Mugabe - ensure free, fair and transparent Zimbabwe presidential elections or face international censure and even sanctions

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Malaysia should take a forthright stand on the escalating human rights crisis in Zimbabwe declaring clearly for democracy and human rights.

Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should send a clear message to his friend President Robert Mugabe to ensure free, fair and transparent Zimbabwe presidential elections in March or face international censure and even sanctions from Malaysia and the Commonwealth.

Malaysia must express its condemnation of Mugabe’s repressive clampdown outlawing criticism of Mugabe and his government  to tighten his 22-year grip on power and far-reaching legislation to muzzle the independent press in Zimbabwe, ban foreign journalists from the country and require local journalists to register with the government. Journalists could face two years in prison if they breach a code of conduct that outlaws reports which sow "alarm and despondency".

Last week, the Zimbabwe rubber-stamp Parliament passed tough laws on public order and elections, giving security forces broad powers against the opposition and disenfranchising millions of Zimbabweans abroad.

Malaysia must join  the international community  to send a strong message that the situation in Zimbabwe has grown worse and  that the Zimbabwean authorities should not allow human rights to be violated with impunity with  no sign of end or abatement of  the state-sanctioned  war of killings, torture and intimidation against the political opposition.

Only on Sunday 13 January 2002, some 20 members of the government-sponsored militia of "war veterans" and ZANU-PF supporters attempted the murder of David Mpala, a member of Parliament of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). David was abducted in broad daylight in the downtown and his kidnappers slashed him with knives and dumped him outside of town.

One day earlier, more than 70 ruling party supporters wearing ZANU-PF t-shirts attacked an MDC office in Murambinda, hacking and stabbing seven suspected MDC supporters, two of whom had to be hospitalized with serious injuries.

In September 2001, Zimbabwe had pledged to the Commonwealth in Abuja, Nigeria, to restore the rule of law in its country but  these promises were never honoured and there were instead   increased spates of state-sponsored violence after the Abuja agreement.

Mahathir must make clear to Mugabe that the Zimbabwe President must fully respect  human rights and honour  commitments to freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary, as well to immediately allow  a credible presence of regional and international human rights monitors -- in addition to election monitors to observe the presidential balloting in March 2002 -- to avert further political killings, "disappearances", torture and other forms of state-sanctioned violence if he is not to face international censure and even sanctions from Malaysia and the Commonwealth.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman