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Volume 455: debated on Monday 15 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of the Zimbabwean Government’s decision to close their remaining independent newspapers. (113842)

We note with concern the Zimbabwe Registrar General’s refusal to renew the passport of Trevor Ncube, owner of the Standard and Independent newspapers, and threats to his citizenship, which might affect the viability of Zimbabwe’s remaining independent media newspapers. We deplore the serious consequences for media and freedom of expression that closure of the last two independent papers would have in Zimbabwe.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth; under what conditions or circumstances that country would be readmitted; and if she will make a statement. (114185)

Zimbabwe was suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth in March 2002, following the presidential election, which was marred by a high level of politically motivated violence and during which conditions did not adequately allow for the free expression of the will of the electors. In December 2003, following the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting statement on Zimbabwe, the Government of Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth.

If Zimbabwe wished to rejoin the Commonwealth they would need to approach the Commonwealth Secretary-General and prove that they now meet the basic principles as set out in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration.