LYON, France - Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, has given up his title as an honorary Vice President of INTERPOL's Executive Committee. Mr Chihuri was one of seven former members of the committee named as honorary members after their terms expired in October 2002.
Mr Chihuri informed the INTERPOL President, Jesus Espigares Mira, and INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble in a letter dated May 28, 2003, that he would step aside because of the continuing controversy over the honorary title and to avoid politicising INTERPOL.
Mr Espigares Mira said that in light of how the matter had become politicised after a Zimbabwean police spokesman's inaccurate comments to the media, he understood why Mr Chihuri chose to resign.
'Mr Chihuri has done the correct thing,' Mr Espigares Mira said. 'The appointment was not meant to endorse the actions of the Zimbabwe Republic Police or Mr Chihuri's work as Commissioner.'
Secretary General Noble said he very much regretted that in a comment to news media on May 6 a Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesman had suggested Mr Chihuri's honorary title was an endorsement of the actions of the police in that country.
'That statement was inaccurate,' Mr Noble said. 'Mr Chihuri's honorary title was one of several given by the INTERPOL Executive Committee to outgoing members and has been a customary way for INTERPOL to recognise their work on that committee'. 'The fact that a ZRP spokesman attempted to use INTERPOL to fight off political criticism has caused INTERPOL to be unfairly and unnecessarily attacked.'
The General Assembly, INTERPOL's supreme governing body, decided in 1994 that such honorary titles should be conferred on outgoing Executive Committee members for a period of three years.
As an honorary Vice President of the Executive Committee, Mr Chihuri received no special benefits, rights or privileges. He, like all individuals named to such honorary posts, was not permitted or expected to discharge any duties on behalf of INTERPOL.
Mr Chihuri was first elected to INTERPOL's Executive Committee by delegates to the organization's General Assembly in 1996. In 1999, he was elected by delegates to the General Assembly to serve another three-year term, this time as the Executive Committee's Vice President for Africa.
INTERPOL is a democratic and apolitical institution, which allows delegates from its 181 member countries to elect whomever they wish to the Executive Committee.
INTERPOL was founded in 1923 to enhance police cooperation and is now the largest international police organization in the world. Article 3 of the INTERPOL constitution forbids it from becoming involved in any activities of a political nature.