Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe snubbed a regional summit called to discuss rising fears of bloodshed over delayed election results, with South African president Thabo Mbeki saying the stalemate is not a crisis. (Report: G. Cragg)
Mbeki held an hour-long meeting with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, shortly before regional leaders meet in
The MDC won a parliamentary election also held on March 29 and claims victory in the presidential poll. It has gone to court to try to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the results, 14 days after the vote took place.
“I wouldn’t describe that as a crisis. It’s a normal electoral process in
Mugabe will not attend Saturday’s Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in
Mugabe, aged 84 and in power since independence from
“He (Mbeki) is going to the summit, I’m not ... We’re very good friends, very good brothers. But sometimes we also have other business that holds us back,” Mugabe told reporters.
He dismissed comments by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the world was losing patience with him, saying: “If Brown is the world, sure, he will lose patience. I know Brown as a little tiny dot on this planet.”
There were no immediate details of the meeting between Mugabe and Mbeki but a senior Zimbabwean official said the South African leader had asked for a briefing on political developments following the elections.
Mbeki met MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday to discuss the crisis, but no details of their talks were revealed.
Tsvangirai has been invited to
“No decision can be made without hearing both sides since there is a stalemate,” Pande said.
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said the party will tell the summit to stand up to Mugabe, still seen as a liberation-era hero by many Africans. “We’ll be telling the leaders that they must stand up against the dictator. They must be strong and stand up against dictatorship,” Biti said.
The 14-member SADC has long been seen as toothless in its response to
Last year it delegated Mbeki to oversee negotiations between ZANU-PF and the MDC to try to ensure a fair and free election, but the talks failed, prompting criticism of SADC and of Mbeki’s policy of “quiet diplomacy”.
The summit appeared to be the best chance to dissuade Mugabe from launching another crackdown on the opposition. Dozens of MDC activists and supporters were beaten by police last year in an abortive anti-government protest in the capital
Zimbabwean police have banned political rallies, including one planned by the MDC for Sunday, while the opposition has called for an indefinite general strike to begin on Tuesday. Both parties accuse the other of preparing for violence.
An estimated one-quarter of the population has fled Zimbabwe, once described as southern Africa’s breadbasket, to escape hyper-inflation of more than 100,000 percent, chronic shortages of food and fuel and 80 percent unemployment.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday that
“SADC must insist that a peaceful and just solution be found to resolve the political crisis in
Date created : 2008-04-12