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Africa

Zimbabwe’s opposition slams Mugabe over threat to quit UN

Zimbabwe’s opposition has dismissed threats by President Robert Mugabe that African countries might one day quit the United Nations, if they are not given permanent seats on the UN Security Council.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has launched an attack on the current structure of the UN Security Council, which consists of temporary non-permament members, elected by the General Assembly, and five permament members, US, UK, Russia, China and France, saying Africa was being denied representation.

"The bosses in the Security Council say you shall never have the powers that we have as permanent members. Reform the Security Council. Reform," he said.

Mugabe was speaking at the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa as he handed over the AU chairmanship to Chadian President Idriss Deby at the weekend.

The Zimbabwean leader threatened that African nations could leave the UN one day.

The international community shouldn't be surprised, he said, "if we decide – and we shall certainly do so one of these days – down with the United Nations, we are not members of it."

Mugabe said African nations as temporary, non-permanent members of the Security Council were only "artificial" members.

Back home in Zimbabwe, the opposition condemned Mugabe's speech saying it would prefer the government to focus more on political and economic issues affecting the southern African country.

Douglas Mwonzora, the Secretary General of Zimbabwe's main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told DW that he saw Mugabe's speech as a distraction from the real issue at hand.

"The people who need reform are President Mugabe and [those like him] on the African continent, who are suppressing the people's will," Mwonzora said. "African people want African governments to be responsible and embrace democratic values. They cannot want to reform the world without reforming themselves," he added.

Douglas Mwonzora the Secretary General of the MDC

Douglas Mwonzora condemned Mugabe's comments at the summit

Zimbabweans condemn leader over remarks

Ordinary Zimbabweans also criticized their leader's calls for African countries to leave the UN.

"As Zimbabwe continues to isolate itself from the international community, ordinary people continue to suffer. We cannot live in isolation as a country," one Harare resident told DW. "Pulling out of the UN means we cannot get drought relief from some of the organizations that are affiliated to the UN. The UN is there for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. It is not there to settle scores," he added.

Another resident expressed a similar opinion: "Mugabe is not thinking about Zimbabweans because right now we have got drought, and if he is to pull out of the UN, it means the ordinary Zimbabweans that are going to suffer at his expense."

For the last 18 years, Zimbabwe's economy has suffered immensely under the government's land reforms and the subsequent economic isolation by the international community.

According to the UN's World Food Program (WFP), a combination of political instability, economic and climatic factors have taken a toll on Zimbabwe's ability to produce enough food for its population.

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