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Britain may have forced AU to accept Mugabe after 2008 elections

Britain may have forced African leaders to accept Robert Mugabe after his controversial victory in the run-off for the 2008 presidential elections because of the “big fuss” it made over Zimbabwe, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says in a cable released by Wikileaks.

Mubarak told United States senator John Kerry on 2 July 2008, a day after the African Union summit that was held in Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt, that he could not stop Mugabe from attending the summit because Zimbabwe was a member of the African Union but he said some member states condemned Mugabe while others told him to form a unity government and find a role for the opposition parties.

He, however, added that because Britain was behind the “big fuss” over Zimbabwe pressure from other African leaders was “sufficiently soft that Mugabe can do what he wants.”

Mugabe had just won controversial elections after Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out. Tsvangirai had won the first round in March but had not polled enough votes for an outright victory.

Tsvangirai was forced to pull out of the re-run because of violence that engulfed the country leaving about 200 people dead.

The elections were held on 27 June. Mugabe was sworn in on June 29 and left that same evening for the AU summit.

Britain was so frustrated with the impasse after the 2008 elections that it even tried to get former South African President Nelson Mandela who was in London to celebrate his 90th birthday to condemn Mugabe.

It also supported military intervention but felt this would be difficult to sell to the United Nations Security Council.

Full cable:



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Reference ID






2008-07-31 10:10

2011-02-09 21:09


Embassy Cairo



DE RUEHEG #1637/01 2131008


P 311008Z JUL 08




C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001637






E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2018




Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey, for reasons

1.4 (b) and (d).


¶1. (C) Summary: On July 2, Senator Kerry and the Ambassador

discussed regional developments with President Hosni Mubarak,

including Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, and Israel-Palestine.

Mubarak said that Egypt was working to find a solution in

Sudan, but preferred to do so “quietly.”  Mubarak warned

against a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.  While he

called Iranians “liars” and said they sponsor terrorism, he

opined that no Arab state would join the U.S. in a formal

defense alliance against Iran for fear of retaliation.

Mubarak expressed frustration with the Israeli-Palestinian

peace process, and was particularly disparaging about the

lack of Palestinian unity.  End summary.



AU “Soft” on Mugabe



¶2. (C) In a 60-minute meeting with President Mubarak in Sharm

El-Sheikh, Senator Kerry began by asking for Mubarak’s views

on the discussions at the African Union Summit, which had

concluded in Sharm El-Sheikh the previous day. Mubarak said

he had been at the Summit until late in the evening and was

tired. He reported that some member states had condemned

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, while others told him to

form a national unity government and find a role for the

opposition parties. Mubarak said he couldn’t prevent Mugabe

from attending the conference in Egypt because Zimbabwe is a

member of the African Union. He said the British were behind

this “big fuss” and that the pressure from other African

leaders was “sufficiently soft that Mugabe can do what he




Sudan:  Quiet Diplomacy Is Best



¶3. (C) In response to Senator Kerry’s query about the

situation in Sudan, Mubarak said the issue was not discussed

publicly at the AU summit. He also said “this issue could

have been worked out” if it were not debated so publicly

because “two tribes always work things out.” Mubarak noted

Egypt’s attempts to “try and help the (Sudanese) people”

through the Egyptian hospital in Sudan and the efforts of

EGIS Director Omar Suleiman to advise on North-South




Iraq:  Don’t Pull Out Too Soon



¶4. (C) Turning to Iraq, Senator Kerry asked Mubarak if he had

changed his opinion of Prime Minister Al Maliki after Iraq’s

successful stabilization efforts in Basra and Sadr City.

Mubarak said he “I am not critical. He came to Cairo.  I gave

him my phone number but he hasn’t called us.” He noted that

Egypt offered to host and train Iraqi forces, but that the

offer had not been acted upon by the Iraqis.  He said the

U.S. “cannot withdraw until you strengthen the armed forces

and police. Until then you have to stay.”



Beware The Iranians



¶5. (C) Mubarak’s top concern for the stability of Iraq and

the region is Iran. He believes that “as a result of the

invasion of Iraq, Iran is spreading everywhere.” He urged the

U.S. to be wary of what Iran says. “They are big, fat liars

and justify their lies because they believe it is for a

higher purpose.” He said he believes this opinion is shared

by other leaders in the region. Nonetheless, he opined that

no Arab state will join the U.S. in a defense relationship

vis-a-vis Iran out of fear of “sabotage and Iranian

terrorism.” He said Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism is

“well-known but I cannot say it publicly. It would create a

dangerous situation.” Mubarak said that sanctions are the

best hope for containing Iran, but Arab states won’t dare to

endorse them.



Not Optimistic on The Peace Process



¶6. (C) On the Middle East Peace Process, Mubarak said he sees

no progress between Syria and Israel and doesn’t expect any

progress between Israel and the PA leadership. He said that

“Palestinians are quarrelling” and Hamas and other factions

will reject any agreement made by Abu Mazen. Senator Kerry


CAIRO 00001637  002 OF 002



suggested the parties appeared to be close in some areas. In

response, Mubarak reiterated he doesn’t believe the many

Palestinian factions will reach agreement and, thus, they

only serve to undermine Abu Mazen’s efforts.


¶7. (C) This cable was not cleared by CODEL Kerry.



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