Commonwealth leaders left the Zambian capital of Lusaka on Wednesday (8 August) after a week-long summit which has produced agreement on almost all the issues covered.
Commonwealth leaders left the Zambian capital of Lusaka on Wednesday (8 August) after a week-long summit which has produced agreement on almost all the issues covered. Before the conference, the questions of Zimbabwe Rhodesia seemed likely to bring a serious split in the Commonwealth ranks, but a new plan based on proposals by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher averted the crisis and the conference has been one of the most successful in recent years.
SYNOPSIS: Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere is one of the most important figures in the Zimbabwe Rhodesia dispute. He is chairman of the influential group of "Frontline" state Presidents and is optimistic that the new British initiative will bring an agreement acceptable to all sides. It was a first Commonwealth Conference for Seychelles President Albert Rene, who came to power after a coup while former President Mancham was in London during the last conference in 1977.
Black African leaders like Kenya's President Daniel Arap Moi have made it clear that they expect Mrs. Thatcher to halt the bitter bush war in Zimbabwe Rhodesia which has spilled over to guerrilla camps on Zambian soil. The head of the Salisbury government, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, has labelled the new plan an insult, and zambian officials fear a resumption of raids by Zimbabwe Rhodesia on the guerrilla forces of Patriotic Front co-leader, Joshua Nkomo. Another problem is the hard line taken by Robert Mugabe's Mozambique-based Patriotic Front forces who have demanded that the Zimbabwe Rhodesia army be disbanded and replaced by guerrilla forces as a pre-condition to the plan's acceptance.
Nevertheless the conference was a great personal triumph for the new British Prime Minister. She arrived in Lusaka to unprecedented attacks from the Zambian press but left with glowing tributes to her diplomatic flair in handling the zimbabwe Rhodesian issue.