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Obasanjo promised Tsvangirai he would urge Mugabe to step down

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo promised Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai that he would urge President Robert Mugabe to step down but nothing of the sort happened when the two leaders met a week later.

Obasanjo paid a whirlwind visit to Zimbabwe on January 20 arriving at 8 pm and leaving at 3am on January 21. He met Mugabe before meeting Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti at 1:10am.

Biti said Obasanjo told them that Mugabe had assured him that violence would be stopped and international observers would be allowed for the presidential elections that were due shortly.

Biti said although the Nigerian President was genuinely trying to help, he appeared to be underestimating what Mugabe was capable of.

Biti confirmed that Obasanjo had, in a 14 January meeting with Tsvangirai in Abuja, said he would urge Mugabe to step down during his Harare visit but he did not raise this issue at their meeting on 21 January.

 

Full cable:

 

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE200, OBASANJO SHUTTLES TO ZIMBABWE, MEETS BOTH

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE200

2002-01-22 13:27

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

221327Z Jan 02

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ9150

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00200 01 OF 02 221336Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 WHA-00   DS-00

EAP-00   VC-00   TEDE-00 INR-00   VCE-00   M-00     NSAE-00

SSO-00   SS-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02   NFAT-00 SAS-00     /002W

——————5B2C7D 221336Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0753

INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY KINGSTON PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY

NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000200

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF A/S KANSTEINER AND DAS BELLAMY

 

NSC FOR SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER

 

PARIS FOR NEARY

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/12

TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI NI

SUBJECT: OBASANJO SHUTTLES TO ZIMBABWE, MEETS BOTH

MUGABE AND TSVANGIRAI

 

 

CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF MATT HARRINGTON.

REASONS: 1.5 (B) AND (D).

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) NIGERIAN PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO MADE A

WHIRLWIND VISIT TO ZIMBABWE, ARRIVING JANUARY 20 AT

8:00 P.M. AND DEPARTING AT 3:00 A.M. THE NEXT DAY. HE

MET WITH BOTH PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE AND THE MDC’S

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI. ACCORDING TO THE NIGERIAN EMBASSY,

OBASANJO MET ALONE WITH MUGABE. ALTHOUGH SPECIFIC

DETAILS OF THEIR CONVERSATION ARE NOT AVAILABLE, THE

NIGERIANS SAID HE RAISED THE ABUJA AGREEMENT, THE NEED

TO ENSURE A LEVEL AND NON-VIOLENT ELECTORAL PLAYING

FIELD, AND THE PRESENCE OF INTERNATIONAL ELECTION

OBSERVERS FROM THE EU, COMMONWEALTH AND OTHER ENTITIES.

OBASANJO LATER TOLD TSVANGIRAI HE WAS MORE OPTIMISTIC

AFTER TALKING WITH MUGABE, WHO HAD “PROVIDED

ASSURANCES” ON KEY ISSUES OF CONCERN. THE MDC

APPRECIATES OBASANJO’S INVOLVEMENT BUT EXPRESSED

DISAPPOINTMENT THAT HE APPEARS TO HAVE ACCEPTED

MUGABE’S PROMISES AT FACE VALUE. END SUMMARY.

 

ARRIVAL

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00200 01 OF 02 221336Z

——-

 

2. (U) PRESIDENT OBASANJO AND HIS LARGE DELEGATION

(WHICH INCLUDED FOREIGN MINISTCR LAMIDO AND SPECIAL

ENVOY ON ZIMBABWE CHIEF SHONEKAN) WAS MET AT HARARE

INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT BY PRESIDENT MUGABE, INFORMATION

MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO, AND A NUMBER OF OTHER RULING

PARTY HEAVYWEIGHTS AT 8:00 P.M. ON JANUARY 20. ALSO IN

ATTENDANCE WERE SOME 2,000 ZANU-PF SUPPORTERS, MANY

WEARING T-SHIRTS WITH OBASANJO’S PICTURE ON THE FRONT,

CHANTING PRO ZANU-PP SLOGANS AND CARRYING PLACARDS

DENOUNCING THE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS,

AMONG OTHERS.

 

MUGABE CONVERSATION

——————-

 

3. (C) ACCORDING TO MARTINS COBHAM, SENIOR COUNSELOR

AT THE NIGERIAN HIGH COMMISSION, PRESIDENTS MUGABE AND

OBASANJO HAD A TETE-A-TETE AFTER A STATE BANQUET IN THE

VISITING PRESIDENT’S HONOR. LAMIDO AND SHONEKAN

REPORTEDLY COOLED THEIR HEELS DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL

DISCUSSION. COBHAM TOLD US HE UNDERSTOOD SECOND-HAND

THAT OBASANJO HAD STRESSED TO MUGABE THE IMPORTANCE OF

KEEPING THE ABUJA AGREEMENT ON TRACK, ENSURING A LEVEL

PLAYING FIELD FOR THE ELECTIONS, AND INVITING

INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVERS. (COMMENT: SINCE

COBHAM WAS NOT PRESENT IN THE ONE-ON-ONE MEETING, WE

SUSPECT HE WAS BASING HIS READOUT TO US ON THE REMARKS

MADE BY THE TWO LEADERS TO JOURNALISTS AFTER THEIR

CONVERSATION. END COMMENT.)

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00200 01 OF 02 221336Z

 

TSVANGIRAI

 

SIPDIS

———-

4. (C) OBASANJO SUBSEQUENTLY MET WITH TSVANGIRAI AND

MDC SHADOW FOREIGN MINISTER TENDAI BITI FROM 1:10 A.M.

TO 2:25 A.M. ON JANUARY 21. BITI TOLD POLITICAL

SECTION CHIEF THAT OBASANJO REPORTED THAT HE WAS MORE

OPTIMISTIC AFTER HIS DISCUSSION WITH MUGABE. THE

ZIMBABWEAN PRESIDENT, ACCORDING TO OBASANJO, HAD

PROVIDED ASSURANCES THAT VIOLENCE WOULD BE STOPPED AND

THAT INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVERS WOULD BE ALLOWED

IN- BITI SAID HE AND TSVANGIRAI HAD DESCRIBED NUMEROUS

PAST INSTANCES IN WHICH MUGABE HAS FAILED TO HONOR

SIMILAR COMMITMENTS, AND THAT THEY STRONGLY ENCOURAGED

OBASANJO TO JUDGE MUGABE ONLY BY HIS ACTIONS. OBASANJO

SAID MUGABE HAD REJECTED OBASANJO’S SUGGESTION THAT HE

MEET WITH TSVANGIRAI. OBASANJO ASKED TSVANGIRAI FOR

ASSURANCES THAT THERE WOULD BE NO “VINDICTIVENESS”

AGAINST MUGABE IF THE MDC WINS THE MARCH CLECTION.

BITI SAID TSVANGIRAI HAD REPLIED THAT THE LAW WOULD BE

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ9152

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00200 02 OF 02 221336Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 WHA-00   DS-00

EAP-00   VC-00   TEDE-00 INR-00   VCE-00   M-00     NSAE-00

SSO-00   SS-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02   NFAT-00 SAS-00     /002W

——————5B2C94 221336Z /38

O 221327Z JAN 02

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0754

INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY KINGSTON PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY

NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 000200

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF A/S KANSTEINER AND DAS BELLAMY

 

NSC FOR SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER

 

PARIS FOR NEARY

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00200 02 OF 02 221336Z

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/12

TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI NI

SUBJECT: OBASANJO SHUTTLES TO ZIMBABWE, MEETS BOTH

MUGABE AND TSVANGIRAI

 

ALLOWED

TO TAKE ITS COURSE, AND STRESSED THE DIFFERENCE

BETWEEN VINDICTIVENESS AND THE RULE OF LAW. OVERALL,

BITI EXPRESSED HIS “GRCAT DISAPPOINTMENT” WITH THE

OBASANJO VISIT. ALTHOUGH THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENT IS

GENUINELY TRYING TO HELP, ACCORDING TO BITI, HE APPEARS

TO BE UNDERESTIMATING WHAT MUGABE IS CAPABLE OF.

 

5. (C) BITI CONFIRMED THAT OBASANJO HAD, IN A JANUARY

14 MEETING WITH TSVANGIRAI IN ABUJA, SAID HE WOULD URGE

MUGABE TO STEP DOWN DURING THE HARARE VISIT. (NOTE:

ACCORDING TO TSVANGIRAI’S SPECIAL ASSISTANT, GANDI

MUDZINGWA, WHO ATTENDED THE MEETING IN ABUJA, OBASANJO

HAD ASKED WHETHER THE MDC WOULD SUPPORT A

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT SUPPORTING AN EXTENSION OF THE

PRESIDENT’S MANDATE LONG ENOUGH TO ALLOW ARRANGEMENT OF

MUGABE’S DEPARTURE.) BITI SAID OBASANJO DID NOT RAISE

THIS ISSUE IN HIS JANUARY 21 MEETING WITH HIM AND

TSVANGIRAI.

 

SIPDIS

 

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) CLEARLY, OBASANJO BROKERED NO BREAKTHROUGHS

DURING HIS BRIEF VISIT. WE CONTINUE TO BELIEVE,

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00200 02 OF 02 221336Z

HOWEVER, THAT HIS PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT ON ZIMBABWE IS

POSITIVE, IF ONLY BECAUSE OBASANJO IS ONE OF THE FEW

PEOPLE WITH INFLUENCE OVCR MUGABE. IF, AS REPORTED,

THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENT FOCUSED HIS DISCUSSION WITH

MUGABE ON VIOLENCE, ELECTORAL RULES AND OBSERVERS —

INSTEAD OF ON LAND, AS THE GOZ WOULD HAVE PREFERRED —

THE VISIT YIELDED SOME INCREMENTAL PROGRESS. HOWEVER,

IF THERE IS ANY HOPE OF MITIGATING FURTHER POLITICAL

AND ECONOMIC DAMAGE IN ZIMBABWE, OBASANJO WILL NEED TO

RATCHET UP THE PRESSURE, BY MAKING IT CLEAR TO MUGABE

THAT HE WILL BE JUDGED ON HIS ACTIONS, NOT HIS

PROMISES. WE FOUND INTERESTING OBASANJO’S STATEMENT TO

TSVANGIRAI IN ABUJA THAT HE PLANNED TO URGE MUGABE TO

 

SIPDIS

STEP DOWN, AN ISSUE HE EITHER DID NOT RAISE WITH HIS

ZIMBABWEAN COUNTERPART OR DID NOT CHOOSE TO SHARE WITH

TSVANGIRAI.

 

SIPDIS

 

SULLIVAN

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

(18 VIEWS)

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