Gambia’s Vice President Fatoumata Tambajang on Friday called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis unfolding in the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe, following a military intervention that saw the country’s long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe placed under house arrest.
Mugabe’s more than three-decade rule of the country took a turn towards a military ouster after the firing of his war veteran comrade and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“We will engage the leadership and the civil society to support the efforts for dialogue,” Tambajang told Jollof News. Gambia will also engage the regional economic bloc, Southern African Development Community to support dialogue for a peaceful resolution.
Cabinet ministers from four countries in the 15-nation SADC have called for an emergency summit to discuss the turmoil in Zimbabwe. It is widely seen as essential to giving Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a dignified exit from power after the military stepped in this week.
Gambia emerged from a political standoff after its former President Yahya Jammeh refused to step aside. Regional military intervention and dialogue from ECOWAS were simultaneously used to achieve a peaceful transition of power that sent Jammeh to Equatorial Guinea.
Botswana President Ian Khama said Mugabe should end his attempts to remain in office after the military seized power this week as he has no regional diplomatic support to stay in power.
The military intervention, which political sources say could pave the way to a national unity government after 37 years of Mugabe rule, also presented “an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on a path to peace and prosperity”, Khama told Reuters.
“I don’t think anyone should be President for that amount of time. We are Presidents, we are not monarchs. It’s just common sense,” he said.
Gambia’s main development partner, the EU, have also called on the relevant players in Zimbabwe to move from confrontation to dialogue with the aim of a peaceful resolution.
“We are following very closely what is happening on the ground, underlining that the fundamental rights of the citizens need to be respected and the constitutional order and democratic governance to be upheld,” the EU said.
Mr. Mugabe and his wife Grace are on an EU sanctions list. They have been put on travel bans and their assets were frozen. The EU first imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2002 over its rights record.
First Lady Grace Mugabe has been in a power tussle with VP Mnangagwa over succession to the Mugabe’s presidency. Mnangagwa is supported by the country’s military chief, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, who launched the takeover.
The dismissal of Mnangagwa triggered unhappiness among many generals, but what outraged military leaders were the efforts of the faction allied with Grace Mugabe to oust dozens of people associated with Mnangagwa.
Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of Zimbabwe’s war veterans, said that President Robert Mugabe would not be allowed to resist the military and remain in power. He added that the veterans saluted Zimbabwe’s military for seizing power from the 93-year-old.
As turmoil unfolded, the only person in the ruling party to address journalists was Kudzanai Chipanga, the leader of the youth wing of ZANU-PF, who warned the military to stay out of politics and said the youth wing was ready to die for Mugabe.
The head of the African Union Commission is backing efforts by the Southern African Development Community to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Moussa Faki Mahamat tells The Associated Press that the AU is working with the regional group. He says he believes a solution will be found that’s within “constitutional legality.”
The AU leader isn’t saying explicitly whether what happened in Zimbabwe was a coup. He says through a translator that there are “divergent views” within Zimbabwe’s ruling party.
But he says the AU condemns all unconstitutional changes in government. He says the union rejects any coups, rebellions or mercenary actions to overthrow a democratically elected government.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Reporting from Jollof News, AP, Reuters, News Agencies)