By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
HARARE—Insinuations that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had been removed from his position as leader of the 60-member African Union, AU observer mission to Zimbabwe’s elections were dismissed Thursday by a member of the mission, Dr. Orji Kalu, a former governor of Abia State.
Kalu who is also in the UN observer mission confirmed yesterday that President Obasanjo was in that position as leader of the observer mission at the induction ceremony in Harare, the capital of the Southern African country.
Zimbabwe is going to the polls on July 31.
“President Obasanjo has the mandate of the African Union to lead the mission and nobody has the right to stop him,” Dr. Kalu said at the end of the induction ceremony presided over by Dr. Nkosazana Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
“I know President Obasanjo is a strong willed and courageous leader who will not be discouraged by the falsehood spreading in some quarters.”
Kalu noted that the choice of the leader and members of the mission was adopted after a rigorous process of selection based on certain criteria.
He said there could not have been a better team.
Kalu said the essence of the Election Observer Mission is to observe without bias the presidential and legislative elections, adding that the team will not be moved by sentiments, especially with its assignment based on well defined terms of reference.
He appealed to the electorate, politicians and political parties to adhere to the rules of the game.
He assured members of the mission that President Obasanjo will join the team latest by July 27, 2013.