Obasanjo hoodwinked by Mugabe: US Embassy

A secret cable released by Wikileaks last month blamed the former Nigerian military ruler Olusegun Obasanjo for supporting President Robert Mugabe.

Olusegun Obasanjo
Olusegun Obasanjo

It said Obasanjo’s letter to Australian Prime Minister John Howard recommending the lifting of Commonwealth sanctions in early 2003 read like “a press release from propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo whose reputation for intellectual dishonesty and vitriolic diatribes against all those who do not share his views is firmly established”.

“The Nigerian president appears to have taken at face value a number of claims from President Mugabe which can most generously be described as disingenuous,” a US official said in a protest letter to Howard.

The letter reportedly written by State Department official Matt Harrington added “we will defer to Embassy Abuja for an assessment of Obasanjo’s motivations for writing such a letter but believe it is important to set the record straight on some of the document’s more outrageous statements.”

“ Ironically, conversations with Nigerian diplomats based in Harare, one reported reftel, show that they do not believe the GOZ line reflected in the Obasanjo letter,” Harrington said.

Part of Obasanjo letter chronicled the Nigerian President’s visit to South Africa, his meeting with former President Thabo Mbeki and description of a meeting with Mugabe as “useful and constructive.”

In the letter which has been gleaned by The Zimbabwean Obasanjo wrote:

“During my visit to Zimbabwe, Honorable Job Sikhala, an MP of MDC for St Mary’s, forwarded a petition to me complaining of breach of fundamental human rights on the part of the Zimbabwean police and possibly sponsored by Government.

“I raised the issue with President Mugabe who confirmed that the MP concerned had taken the case to court and that the police admitted with an apology that the MP was assaulted. President Mugabe denied any Government involvement in such police acts.

“Allowing the case to be prosecuted in court must convince people that Government was not behind the act and would not condone it. From all accounts, it would appear that violence political or non-political is fairly pervasive in Zimbabwe,” said Obasanjo arguing the case for Zimbabwe’s re-entry into the all British Club.

He concluded by saying, “From the above, together with what I personally saw on the ground in Zimbabwe, I believe that the time is now auspicious to lift the sanctions on Zimbabwe with regard to her suspension from the Commonwealth Councils.”

In response the US accused the Nigerian leader of taking Mugabe’s bait hook line and sinker.

“In addition, the overwhelming majority of political violence (murders, tortures, rapes, disappearances) is unrelated to the land seizures, but is sanctioned by the ruling party in an effort to extinguish any threat – real or perceived – to its iron grip on power,” the cable said.

Post published in: Africa News

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