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Commonwealth snubs Mugabe


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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, has not been invited to next month's Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in the Nigerian capital, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said Tuesday.

Fifty-two heads of state of former British colonies are expected at the meeting, which will be attended by Queen Elizabeth II.

The 79-year-old Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 but has drawn sharp criticism over many of his policies, including what many claim are human rights abuses targeting the opposition.

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The opposition also says his leadership is illegitimate because of widespread voting irregularities in the March 2002 presidential election. Those irregularities led to Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth.

Western countries have criticized Mugabe's land reform program which has seen fertile farming land transferred from white farmers to black families. The president said the policy redresses unfair colonial distribution.

Mugabe has remained defiant in the face of all criticisms.

Pakistan has also been suspended and will not be represented at the meeting.

Pakistan's suspension followed the coup that put Gen. Pervez Musharraf at the head of the country in 1999.

The meeting will be held between December 5 and December 8 in Abuja.


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