UK, African ministers set to discuss Zimbabwe’s possible readmittance to Commonwealth

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa wants his country to rejoin the Commonwealth. (Reuters pic)

LONDON: British foreign minister Boris Johnson will meet his Zimbabwean counterpart Sibusiso Moyo and ministers from neighbouring African countries for talks on Friday expected to include Harare’s possible readmittance to the Commonwealth.

Zimbabwe left the group in 2003 after former president Robert Mugabe was criticised over disputed elections and violent seizures of white-owned farms.

Friday’s talks will take place on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting being held in London.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over when Mugabe quit after nearly four decades in power following a de facto military coup last November, has said he wants Zimbabwe to rejoin the organisation of 53 mostly former territories of the British Empire.

Johnson has previously said Zimbabwe’s Commonwealth readmittance would be a “fine and noble aspiration” for both parties, but that it must hold free and fair elections first and also prove it meets the organisation’s standards on the rule of law, democracy, and human rights.

Speaking earlier this week, he praised the country’s progress under Mnangagwa but said there was still much to do.