London, Dec 9(ANI): A coup was planned to remove Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe with the help of pressure from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, according to classified US diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website Wikileaks.
According to the Guardian, a group of exiled Zimbabwean businessman proposed in 2007 that Mugabe could be persuaded to hand over executive power to a prime minister before leaving office completely three years later.
American officials welcomed the idea, noting that it "may not require outside intervention".
"To get Mugabe to accept the deal, Mugabe would remain president until 2010 with some power over the security apparatus, but the prime minister would run the economy and get the country back on its feet," a confidential memo from the US Embassy in South Africa entitled 'Secret power sharing plan' stated.
"All parties would work together to draft a new constitution. [The businessman] was open to ideas on who best to sell the plan, but suggested new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, working through an envoy like former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir, as possible mediators," it added.
The plot came to nothing, but it does bear similarities to the power sharing deal that saw Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai become Prime Minister after violent elections in 2008, the paper said.
Another cable from the US Embassy in Harare suggests that the MDC endorsed the concept.
It says that Tsvangirai told embassy officials that "this is Mugabe's Plan B as he runs into growing resistance".
"Significant outside intervention, therefore, may not be necessary; however, gentle encouragement from Pretoria is unlikely to be amiss. UN SYG [secretary general] Ban may not wish to engage on this issue at the beginning of his tenure, especially in view of the way Mugabe treated former UN SYG [Kofi] Annan," the cable said.
"He fears for his future if he steps down - citing the Charles Taylor example [the former Liberian president now on trial for war crimes] - and perhaps even more importantly fears for the future of his wife and young children," it added. (ANI)