It's difficult to believe that anything important is going on the world at the moment other than the war on Iraq. However, there are some developments worth noting - in parenthesis, so to speak. The one year suspension of Zimbabwe's membership of the Commonwealth is due to expire today. The leaders of the Nigeria and South Africa who, with the Australian prime minister John Howard, imposed the suspension, have been arguing strongly that it should be lifted; however, Mr Howard has been equally forthright in saying that it should be maintained until the next Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Nigeria next December. The disagreement has not been resolved but Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, has produced a report based on consultations with most of the organisation's 54 members which is said to be very critical of President Mugabe's performance on human rights, land reform, democracy and the rule of law. This widely-based report may enable the Commonwealth to avoid a split on racial lines over Zimbabwe's suspension. Since the suspension was imposed to encourage Mugabe to mend his dictatorial ways it is disappointing to think that it has had little or no effect and it is difficult to see on what grounds it should now be suspended. An interesting sidelight on the preparation of Mr McKinnon's report is that Caribbean Commonwealth countries are believed to have changed their minds about supporting Zimbabwe after Henry Olonga, the Zimbabwean cricketer, was dropped from the national side for the World Cup after he publicly protested against his government's policies. Cricket has its uses.
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