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Obama lashes at African leaders

world Updated: Jun 26, 2008 09:45 IST

AFP
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Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama has lashed out at African nations for keeping silent on the violence in Zimbabwe saying they had pandered to President Robert Mugabe for too long.

"This used to be the bread basket of Africa. And Mugabe has perpetrated extraordinary violence against his own people," Obama told a press conference on Wednesday.

He said the United Nations and other countries "in particular, other African nations, including South Africa ... have to be much more forceful in condemning the extraordinary violence that has been taking place there.

"Frankly, they have been quiet for far too long. And allowed Mugabe to engage in this sort of anti-colonial rhetoric that is used to distract from his own profound failures as a leader," Obama said.

The Illinois senator said even before Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had withdrawn from Friday's run-off presidential polls he had talked South Africa's ruling party chief Jacob Zuma.

Obama said he had "encouraged and urged him to speak out more forcefully on what's happening."

"What is remaining of this election is a complete and total sham," Obama said. "I don't think that whatever the results of this election on Friday, that Mugabe will be able to claim any form of legitimacy as a democratically elected leader of Zimbabwe."

Former South African president Nelson Mandela and US President George W. Bush on Wednesday led mounting world outrage over Zimbabwe, where Mugabe, 81, is pressing on with what is seen as a "sham" presidential run-off vote.