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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Send a Letter to Muammar Gaddafi!

I received this email today from The One Campaign:
Dear ONE Member,

Zimbabwe is beyond a state of crisis.

Zimbabwe was once one of the most promising countries in Africa with a thriving agriculture industry, one of the region’s highest literacy rates and a robust healthcare system. Today, Zimbabwe is a land of devastation. 28 years of increasingly dictatorial rule by President Robert Mugabe have led to hyperinflation, food shortages and a breakdown of basic public services.

Last year, the world watched Zimbabwe suffer through a botched and violent election. But last Wednesday, after months of bitter negotiations with President Robert Mugabe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as the new Prime Minister, forming a “unity government” that will attempt to move the country forward. It won’t be easy. Last year’s disastrous election and President’s Mugabe’s continued presence casts doubt about how much change is possible. The good news is that Zimbabwe does not have to do this work alone. The African Union (AU) will serve as guarantor for this new government and it is critical that they take immediate action to ensure Zimbabwe’s unity government takes steps in the right direction.

You can show the African Union that the world is watching to make sure it keeps its promise to Zimbabwe’s new unity government, by signing our petition to the newly-elected African Union chairman Muammar Gaddafi:

Petition text:

Please ensure that the African Union executes its role as guarantor of the new Zimbabwe unity government.

The African Union can put Zimbabwe on the right footing and show the world that it is serious about change by aggressively policing the agreement, and, at a minimum, acting on the four recommendations offered by civil society groups in Zimbabwe:

* Insist on the immediate cessation of abductions and torture, as well as the release of the human rights activists and political prisoners.
* Demand that humanitarian agencies be allowed to work in an unrestricted environment.
* Call for an immediate repeal of unjust legislation like the Access to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
* Ensure an enabling environment for the new unity government.

The consequences of years of poor governance in Zimbabwe are poverty and disease on a tragic scale that demands a global response. Public hospitals have been without running water for months, creating a petri dish for easily preventable killers like cholera. More than 3,000 people have died in Africa’s worst cholera epidemic in 19 years. Schools have been shut down because teachers can’t be paid. The agricultural sector has collapsed, half the population requires emergency food aid and humanitarian aid groups are struggling to keep up.

We’re not the only ones calling for action. In South Africa, activist and co-founder of the Global Campaign Against Poverty, Dr. Kumi Nadoo had this to say: "Unity within governmental structures alone does not address the humanitarian and human rights issues that the people of Zimbabwe face on a daily basis. Therefore, the AU must – first and foremost – demand that the Zimbabwean government listen to and respect its people."

You can help make that happen. Take action now by adding your name to our petition asking the African Union to do its job as guarantor of the unity government, and work to end the political repression that has crippled Zimbabwe.

Thank you for making a difference,

David Lane,
I agree with everything in this letter, and I would like to personally ask anyone who reads this to sign the petition. However, I think it speaks volumes to both the depth of the crisis in Zimbabwe and the current political realities of Africa that this appeal for good governance is being directed to Muammar Gaddafi.

Terrifying. (But we still need to do what we can.)

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