But some countries were taking a stronger line. In Nairobi, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the African Union should bar Mugabe from the summit.
“They should suspend him and send peace forces to Zimbabwe to ensure free and fair elections,” Odinga said.
Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio noted that some Africans argue the West should “leave us alone and we be left to decide our own destiny.”
But “then this is our destiny and then we don’t want to talk about it. That doesn’t make any sense,” he told reporters.
One of the few African leaders openly critical of Mugabe, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, was not in attendance at the summit after he was rushed to Sharm el-Sheik’s hospital on Sunday. His vice president, Rupiah Banda, said Monday that the 59-year-old Mwanawasa suffered a stroke and was in stable condition.
“That is really bad luck for us,” said Gadio, because the Zambian leader’s absence could hurt attempts to put more pressure on Mugabe.
The African Union’s own observers said Monday that the Zimbabwe runoff fell short of the continental body’s standards, citing violence and noting that the opposition was denied equal access to the media during the campaign.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe should have no place at the summit and the AU now had a responsibility to deal with the crisis.
“Robert Mugabe is not the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai told The Associated Press. “He is usurping the power of the people. He has brutalized his own people.”
U.N. deputy secretary-general, Asha-Rose Migiro, echoed that call for action in an address to the delegates, saying the Zimbabwe crisis is “the single greatest challenge … in southern Africa, not only because its terrible humanitarian consequences but also because of the dangerous political precedent it sets.”
Zimbabwe’s government mouthpiece, The Herald, reported Monday that Mugabe “was prepared to face any of his AU counterparts disparaging Zimbabwe’s electoral conduct because some of their countries had worse” elections records.
Zimbabwe is far from Africa’s only experience with flawed elections. For example, the summit’s host nation, U.S. ally Egypt, is often criticized by international rights groups for jailing dissidents to Mubarak’s nearly 27-year rule, and recent elections saw violence as police barred opposition supporters from the polls.
Many world leaders have condemned Zimbabwe’s runoff. On Monday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said France “decided that this government is illegitimate” and called the re-election of Mugabe a “farce, a criminal electoral comedy.”
He expressed hopes African leaders would be firm with Mugabe at the summit. But he also acknowledged that “for many Africans, Mugabe was long a great liberator” as an anti-colonial hero, which complicates matters.”
President Bush has said the U.S. was working on ways to further punish Mugabe and his allies. That could mean steps against his government as well as additional restrictions on the travel and financial activities of Mugabe supporters. The U.S. has financial and travel penalties in place against more than 170 citizens and entities with ties to Mugabe, the White House says.
Bush also wants the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe as well as travel bans on Zimbabwe government officials.
The 15-nation council unanimously said it “condemns the campaign of violence against the political opposition ahead of the second round of presidential elections,” which has resulted in the killing of scores of opposition activists and other Zimbabweans. More »
“It is clearly impossible to talk about free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, and to suggest otherwise is to be clearly blind to the grave harassment, intimidation and violence that the people of Zimbabwe have had to endure over the past few years,” the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party said in a statement, calling on Zimbabwe’s neighbors to intervene. More »
In its report, Human Rights Watch said it had documented 36 deaths and more than 2,000 injuries at the hands of Mugabe party militants backed by the police and army, but that the real figures may be much higher. More »