- Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has validated the re-election of his Zimbabwean counterpart in a controversial presidential polls re-off in which Robert Mugabe was the sole candidate.
The leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled out of the race barely four days before the poll, blaming the ruling militia and state security agents of intimidating, harassing and killing his supporters.
Mr Tsvangirai, who cried foul that "credible poll could not be held under a state of terror", had attracted sympathy and support from world leaders, including Western and African governments.
However, a number of African governments, who believed that the West's push for a regime change in the Southern African country would derail the gains of the liberation struggle, remain supportive to Mr Mugabe. Though they welcomed the government-opposition dialogue, these governments maintained that the Zimbabwean crisis needs an African solution as evidenced by the outcome of the just concluded African Union Summit in Egypt.
With a history of tirades on the West since he came to power in July 1994, it came as no big surprise that President Jammeh was going to stand behind Mr. Mugabe during his country's most challenging political and economic crises.
Mr. Jammeh did not only give a "healthy bill" of the Zimbabwean polls, he also painted Mr. Tsvangirai as a "blue-eyed boy" and "puppet" of the West.
Gambian leader rarely talks to the local press, but the Zimbabwean issue is one thing he would not allow to escape his comments. This was why he jumped on the issue upon arrival at the Banjul International Airport from the 11th AU summit in Egypt.
“The pronouncements of major Western media before the summit was what those representing Western interests came with, but they have regretted it," he said, adding that most of his colleagues had worked on the continent's interest.
He said Africans accepted Mr Mugabe's re-election because Zimbabwean laws do not ban polls in the event of a boycott.
The Gambia's former military junta leader saw Mugabe as a victim of his 2002 land reform programme which seized land from the minority whites and gave it to the majority landless blacks. He blamed the West for causing the suffering of Zimbabweans and are now forcing a regime change to allow their puppet to rule.
Jammeh borrowed a cue from his Ugandan counterpar, Yoweri Museveni, that elections "cannot be free and fair" in an atmosphere in which external forces back opposition principally to destabilise a country through attacks on the ruling party supporters as well as use NGOs influence polls.
He viewed Mugabe as a nationalist and patriot whose efforts had halted the repressive white minority rule in his country. He said gone are the days when Africans should allow to be dictated by the West.
"Africans should stand for Zimbabwe. After all what did the West did for Africa?" he asked.
He wondered why the West did not bother to care about the shooting and killing of opposition protesters in another African country where the government asked relatives to pay for the bullets before they collect their dead bodies.
Zimbabwean government has welcomed the AU proposal to open dialogue and pave way for a government of national unity. However, the MDC's refusal to endorse the AU advice to mend fences with the ruling Zanu-PF clearly indicates the Southern African country's political crisis is yet to be buried under the carpet.
Mr. Tsvangirai is not comfortable with the South African President's mediation. He accused Thabo Mbeki of being bias in favour of Mr. Mugabe. Zimbabwean President said the Mbeki mediation had resulted in key amendments to the constitution and electoral laws.
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