Archbishops call for Robert Mugabe to resign

Nearly 40 Anglican archbishops from around the world have issued an unprecedented call for the resignation of a head of state.

The Primates of 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion have called for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to stand down.

Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, the Primates said last night that they
"note with horror the appalling difficulties" of the people of Zimbabwe
and in particular the plight of many Christians being refused access to
their churches.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is chairing the
meeting, is expected to send an envoy to show "solidarity" with the
people of Zimbabwe.

The Primates also declared the Christian festival Ash Wednesday on 29
February this year, which marks the beginning of the penitential season
of Lent, a day of "prayer and solidarity" with the people of Zimbabwe.

The Primates, urging all Anglican parishes, dioceses and provinces to
observe this and take any other action they can to support people and
churches in Zimbabwe, said: "We wish to assure them of our love,
support and prayers as they face gross violation of human rights,
hunger and loss of life as well as the scourge of a cholera epidemic,
all due directly to the deteriorating socio-political and economic
situation in Zimbabwe."

Describing it as a matter of "grave concern" that there had been a
breakdown of law and order, they condemned the "flagrant disregard" of
the democratic process that allowed Mugabe to "illegitimately" hold on
to power.

The Primates said: "There appears to be a total disregard for life,
consistently demonstrated by Mr Mugabe through systematic kidnap,
torture and the killing of Zimbabwean people."

Calling for Mugabe to go, they said: "We therefore call upon President
Robert Mugabe to respect the outcome of the elections of 2008 and to
step down. We call for the implementation of the rule of law and the
restoration of democratic processes."

The problems in Zimbabwe have spread to the Anglican province of
Central Africa, currently without a Primate. The Bishop of Harare
Nolbert Kunonga, a puppet of the regime, was deposed by the province
and Sebastian Bakare elected in his stead. Kunonga has resisted the
deposition, and has seized churches and other property from the
diocese. Anglicans who attempt to worship in their churches have
suffered harrassment by police.

The Primates reiterated that they do not recognise the status of
Kunonga and another "bishop", Elson Jakazi, as Anglican bishops. They
called for the full restoration of Anglican property.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, made one of the most memorable
protests against the regime when he cut up his clerical collar on live
television and swore not to wear it again until Mugabe had gone.

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