Tutu, Rights Group Urge Mugabe To Step Down

The Elders, a group of leading human rights advocates, is demanding that longtime Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe step down, calling the African nation's election process illegitimate.

Mugabe was sworn in Sunday for a sixth term amid allegations of violence and intimidation against supporters of the opposition. Observers say that the violence, targeted against opponent Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters, left dozens dead, hundreds wounded and thousands displaced.

But the 84-year-old leader continues to dismiss international criticism. Tuesday, Mugabe spokesman George Charamba told reporters that critics of Zimbabwe's government can "go hang."

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, both members of the Elders, discuss why they think Mugabe is unfit to lead.

Official Statement by The Elders

June 30, 2008

Desmond Tutu

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of 12 members of The Elders. Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Getty Images
Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, is also a member of The Elders. Monika Evstatieva, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Monika Evstatieva, NPR

(Johannesburg, South Africa) The crisis in Zimbabwe requires leadership, wisdom and moral courage that the African Union can provide.

As leaders gather for the African Union summit in Sharm El Sheikh today, we ask that they clearly state that the results of the June 27 elections in Zimbabwe are illegitimate – for they occurred under the cloud of targeted political violence, precipitating the withdrawal of one of the two candidates. The African election observers left no doubt: the elections were neither free nor fair.

Secondly, we ask that the African Union's brave leaders appoint a special envoy to pursue a robust mediation effort, working across the parties to build confidence, create a transitional government; prepare for free and fair elections; and start a process of national reconciliation.

Third, we ask that the AU require that the Zimbabwe's current government meet its responsibility to protect its citizens by bringing an end to political violence and abuses of human rights and by reversing its decision to suspend the work of aid agencies.

The crisis in Zimbabwe affects all Africans. And the fate of all Zimbabweans is on our conscience. The African Union has a commitment to good governance, justice, respect for human rights and the rule of law. Its leadership is needed at this pivotal moment. It can help Zimbabwe return to the greatness that inspired so many of us during its proud history.

Let us be inspired again.

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