Zimbabwe applies to rejoin Commonwealth

Former President Robert Mugabe pulled Harare out of the association in 2003 after disputed polls.

Emmerson Mnangagwa walks after he was sworn in as Zimbabwe''s president in Harare
Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe in November, made the application on May 15 [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

Zimbabwe has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth and has invited the bloc of former British colonies to send observers to its general elections set for this year.

Robert Mugabe, who was pushed out of office last year, pulled Zimbabwe out of the organisation in 2003 after Harare’s membership was suspended following disputed elections held the previous year.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said in a statement on Monday that President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe after a de facto army coup in November, made the application on May 15.

“Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history,” Scotland said.

Mnangagwa has vowed to hold fair and free elections, and has pledged to revive the moribund economy by repairing international ties and attracting foreign investment.

Britain said last month that it would strongly support Zimbabwe returning to the Commonwealth.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted on Monday: “Fantastic news that Zimbabwe … wishes to rejoin the Commonwealth.”

“Zimbabwe must now show commitment to Commonwealth values of democracy and human rights,” Johnson added.

If readmitted, Zimbabwe will become the fifth country to re-join the association – which has 53 member countries – after Gambia, South Africa, Pakistan and Fiji.

The other countries to have quit the organisation are Ireland, which left in 1949, and the Maldives, which exited in 2016. The last country to join was Rwanda, in 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies