PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia wants more consultation among Commonwealth members before deciding whether Zimbabwe should remain suspended from the body, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said.
Malaysia, he said, felt there was a lack of consultation on Zimbabwe’s suspension and was concerned that it would create dissension among members.
“We do not want the Commonwealth to be divided between Western, African and Asian countries.
“We should try to build on consensus. If there is anything that is unsatisfactory, there should be more consultation.
“Any decision must be on the basis that there was enough consultation. We should not conclude that there is consultation when a few countries are consulted and many others feel they were not,” he told reporters at Wisma Putra’s Hari Raya open house attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and foreign diplomats.
Syed Hamid was commenting on the question of Zimbabwe’s suspension from the body that threatened to dominate the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this week in Nigeria.
The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe from the 54-nation body in March last year over its poor human rights record and Mugabe’s re-election in a vote widely condemned as rigged.
When the initial 12-month period ended, the Commonwealth announced that Zimbabwe’s suspension would continue until December.
South Africa and Nigeria are in a troika, chaired by Australia, tasked with overseeing the body’s response to alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
President Robert Mugabe last week said that Zimbabwe was ready to “say goodbye to the Commonwealth”, claiming it was being victimised by white countries in the body, particularly Britain and Australia.
Australia, in response, told the international community not to be intimidated by Zimbabwe’s threat.
Asked on Malaysia’s stand, Syed Hamid, who is heading the Malaysian delegation to CHOGM, said Zimbabwe “should not be pushed to the wall”.
“We should listen to their concerns and worries,” he added.
On his meeting with European Union (EU) ambassadors here, Syed Hamid said he brought up the issue of the Commonwealth focussing on relations with the EU and not with members of the Commonwealth.
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