- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: UN's Ban Ki-moon urges Mugabe to free detained activists
- Date: 25th February 2009
- Summary: PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (FEBRUARY 25, 2009) (REUTERS) U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON AND SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT KGALEMA MOTLANTHE ENTERING NEWS CONFERENCE ROOM PRESIDENT MOTLANTHE JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL, BAN KI-MOON SAYING: "He (referring to President Mugabe) was open minded to United Nations' and international community's assistance on humanitarian grounds. I think that is the right thing to do for him, as well as for the international community. I will receive a report from Catherine Bragg (U.N. assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs) on her recommendation on how we can mobilise more humanitarian assistance including these refugee issues. At the same time I would count on continuing support and assistance by the South African government and people for them." CUT AWAY MINISTERS SEATED MEDIA (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL, BAN KI-MOON SAYING: "I urged him and also appealed to President Mugabe, while I would support and welcome the launch of a unity government, it would be appropriate and it would be a welcomed gesture for leader of Zimbabwe to embrace all different parts of opinions and the leaders in the country by releasing all these detained people, and I hope that, he will listen to the expectations of the international community by releasing them all as soon as possible." PHOTOGRAPHERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT, KGALEMA MOTLANTHE, SAYING: "As a South African government we have been taking a benign attitude towards the movement of people between the two countries as a way of alleviating the very dire conditions in Zimbabwe, and that is why we have invested our effort in insuring that we support this inclusive government, because its primary task is to stabilise the situation and create conditions for all these Zimbabwean refugees and Zimbabweans in the diaspora to return home." MORE OF MEDIA PEOPLE BAN KI-MOON AND PRESIDENT MOTLANTHE SHAKING HANDS AND WALKING AWAY
- Embargoed: 12th March 2009 12:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA3CG0QORU79A5TROH6FPXO9H3V
- Story Text: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to release detained activists.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday (February 25) called on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to release detained activists and said such a move would help unlock international humanitarian support.
Many of the activists still detained in Zimbabwe are members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, the long time opposition party which entered a unity government with Mugabe earlier this month.
One of the highest profile detainees is senior MDC official Roy Bennett who remained in detention pending an appeal by state lawyers against the high court's granting of bail on Tuesday.
"It would be a welcome gesture for the leader of Zimbabwe to embrace all different opinions and leaders in the country by releasing all these detained people," Ban said.
"I hope that he would listen to the expectations of the international community by releasing them all as soon as possible," Ban said after talks in South Africa with President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Bennett, a white farmer who lost his farm under Mugabe's land seizures had been earmarked to become deputy agriculture minister. He faces charges of plotting terrorism, insurgency and banditry. He denies the charges.
Zimbabwe's new government urgently needs to tackle an economic meltdown that has led to the world's highest inflation, food shortages and a cholera epidemic that has killed 3,877 people and infected over 83,000 others.
Tsvangirai said last week it would cost as much as $5 billion to repair the economy.
"The economic situation is very dire and the humanitarian situation is also very worrisome," Ban said.
He added that Mugabe should promote national reconciliation and the international community, led by the United Nations, stood ready to help support Zimbabwe's recovery with humanitarian aid.
"But all these efforts ... would get stronger and more support from the international community if we can see progress in the political and national reconciliation," Ban said.
South Africa's President Motlanthe told reporters he had been told by Tsvangirai that the issue of detained activists was being discussed with Mugabe and was "high on the agenda."
"As a South African government we have been taking a benign attitude towards the movement of people between the two countries as a way of alleviating the very dire conditions in Zimbabwe, and that is why we have invested our effort in insuring that we support this inclusive government, because its primary task is to stabilise the situation and create conditions for all these Zimbabwean refugees and Zimbabweans in the diaspora to return home," Kgalema Motlanthe told journalists at the joint news conference with Ban Ki-moon.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in South Africa on Tuesday (February 24) on his first official visit to the country, beginning a trip that will also take him to Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Egypt
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