According to the AU’s peace and security commissioner, Smail Chergui, Mugabe “left with honour” and the process to remove him was “totally peaceful”.
Clean bill of health
“It was just a dialogue between the leadership of the country and the president and they convinced him that maybe some of the actions taken, including around him and his immediate surrounding, were not good for the country, and he accepted to submit his resignation willingly,” Chergui told Russia’s state-run Sputnik news site.
The clean bill of health from Chergui is in contrast to that of AU chair, Alpha Conde, who slammed the Zimbabwe military operation as a “coup d’etat” and said the continental body would never accept it.
Speaking a day after the military seized the state broadcaster and sealed off government offices in Harare on November 15, Conde called for a return to constitutional order.
But in his interview with Sputnik, Chergui was in no doubt about where the continental body stands now: “It’s not a coup according to African Union rules, because we are the one to declare if someone has made a coup and then apply sanctions,” he said.
“We are neither in a crisis in Zimbabwe nor in extraordinary situation,” the Algerian diplomat added.
Many Zimbabweans were relieved to see the back of Mugabe, but have been bemused at how the military operation – dubbed Restore Legacy – escaped international censure.
Reacting to Chergui’s remarks, media watchdog Zim Media Review said in a tweet: “Clear double standards by AU. It was a coup. They are just happy to get rid of Mugabe, but they set a bad precedent by their stance.”
Added @AbbieRuramai: “Wow…he (Chergui) is quite creative. I used to think any unconstitutional change in gvt amounted 2 a coup.”