Saturday, April 30, 2011

Raila meets Mugabe, Tsvangirai in Harare

By Steve MkawalePrime Minister Raila Odinga met Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe at State House, Harare, where they discussed various issues, including the country’s constitutional reforms.
Contrary to media reports that Raila was unwelcome, Mugabe urged the premier to share Kenya’s experience in constitutional reforms during his visit.
Mugabe reportedly told Raila that he was free to visit the country and stay as long as he wished.
The PM advised that constant dialogue and willingness to compromise was the answer to Zimbabwe’s quest for a new constitution.
Earlier, Government-owned Press reportedly launched attacks on Raila after he accepted an invitation to a congress for a party led by Mugabe’s archrival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Raila’s entourage headed straight to State House and later travelled to Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city where he was to officially open Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party congress.
The congress was scheduled for Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo where Raila was to give the keynote address.
The State-owned Herald newspaper described Raila as a "merchant of violence".
"Who then is this Raila Odinga?" asked George Rugare Chingarande in the paper’s opinion pages.
Mugabe’s sympathisers have never forgiven Raila for calling for the 87-year-old leader’s exit in a 2008 interview with BBC.
At the congress in Barbourfields Stadium, Bulawayo, Raila received a warm welcome from the delegates and his host, Tsvangirai.
He told the cheering delegates that after 50 years of independence, Africa cannot blame its problems on colonialism. He blamed incompetent and corrupt leadership, lack of democracy and weak institutions for under development in the continent.
"Africa must embrace constitutionalism and the rule of law if it is to develop," he said.
Raila said elections in Africa must be free, fair and transparent.
"Negative ethnicity has denied Africa visionary leadership. Impunity must be fought across Africa," he said.

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