ZIMBABWE – President Mugabe is the dean of all African presidents and deserves respect, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has said.
In an interview after paying a courtesy call on President Mugabe at his hotel here where the two leaders had a closed door meeting for almost an hour, President Nguema Mbasogo said their discussions centred on the deliberations of the just-ended India-Africa Forum Summit and other developments in Africa.
“I had a long chat with President Mugabe who is the dean of all African presidents,” he said. “He is a well-respected statesman and he deserves such respect. Our meeting was on different issues affecting us as Africans as well as reflecting on the just-ended summit.
“A lot of issues were discussed during the summit and it is always important to exchange notes with great leaders like President Mugabe.”
South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who also paid a courtesy call on President Mugabe, said: “I came here to brief President Mugabe who is the African Union chairman on the peace process in South Sudan. Everything is in control and I am ready to welcome all the rebels back to South Sudan. In fact, I am waiting for them, even if they come today.
“The meeting with President Mugabe helped us to exchange notes on the peace process in South Sudan and we are very confident that peace will prevail.”
In an earlier interview, South Sudan Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the peace process in South Sudan was an African matter which required African solutions and not foreign interventions.
“Our President Salva Kiir is here to meet President Mugabe because the peace process in South Sudan is the responsibility of the African Union,” he said.
“The report on the disturbances on South Sudan done by the African Union investigators is now out and we are looking into it and chart the way forward.”
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo led the African Union investigators to find out the real causes of the disturbances in South Sudan which started on December 15, 2013 when a skirmish broke out between soldiers from the Dinka and Nuer tribes in the presidential guard.
The skirmishes followed political tension between President Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his then deputy Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer.
When the violence began, Machar became the leader of the rebels.
Dr Benjamin said the African Union investigators report had drawn the interests of the United Nations Security Council.
“The United Nations Security Council was trying to ask for the investigators’ report well before it was tabled before the African Union and we could have none of it because we strongly feel that it is an African matter that requires African solutions,” he said.
“The African Union, together with our government lawyers, will help us to form a hybrid court to look into issues of those who violated human rights during the conflict. The report tabled issues of human rights violations by both sides in the conflict and those found on the wrong side of the law will be tried accordingly.”
Dr Benjamin said South Sudan would not succumb to the wishes of those trying to politicise the AU investigators’ report to effect regime change in the country.
“We want to avoid rumour-mongering at all costs. Some people are trying to politicise the AU report to effect regime change and we will not accept it,” he said.
“We are confident that the peace process will hold. No government will want to be involved in a senseless war.”
President Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement in August, but fighting con- tinued.