- G8 - MDC - Morgan Tsvangirai - Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe's regime warned the West on Monday to "stop meddling" in Zimbabwe's crisis as the veteran leader faced mounting pressure to cut a deal with the opposition after his one-man election.
While US President George W. Bush again labelled the June 27 poll a "sham" and G8 leaders attending a summit in Japan pushed for new sanctions, a top Mugabe lieutenant said the outside world had no role to play in the crisis.
"We appeal to foreigners and external forces to leave the resolution of the Zimbabwe situation to Zimbabweans alone," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the state-run Herald newspaper.
"Britain, the US and the EU, in particular, should stop meddling in our affairs."
Group of Eight industrial powers, at a meeting on the sidelines of the summit, were to urge African leaders to pile pressure on Mugabe over the violence-wracked vote boycotted by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Zimbabwe's parties to restore the "rule of law" and said he would take up the crisis with African leaders.
Ban, speaking to AFP on his plane as he arrived in Japan, said Mugabe's election lacked legitimacy.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Fukuda it was "important to send a strong message to secure democracy in Zimbabwe," a Japanese government official said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile said new sanctions were to be discussed.
After meeting with African leaders on Monday, Bush sought to show solidarity with Zimbabweans while criticising Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence in 1980.
"I care deeply about the people of Zimbabwe, I am extremely disappointed in the election, which I labelled a sham election," Bush said with Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, the current chairman of the AU.
Kikwete's comments, however, highlighted the West's difficulties in pressuring Mugabe, with the Tanzanian leader reiterating the AU's relatively mild call for dialogue.
"I want to assure you that the concerns you have expressed are indeed the concerns of many of us in (the) African continent," he said, adding that "the only area that we may differ is on the way forward."
"We are saying no party can govern alone in Zimbabwe and therefore the parties have to work together, come out to work together in a government and then look at the future of their country together," said Kikwete.
At a summit last week, African Union leaders called for dialogue in Zimbabwe and the formation of a national unity government.
Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition, has rejected a unity government, saying it does not reflect the people's will and accommodates Mugabe after much of the world dismissed his re-election as a farce.
The talks at the G8 come after a weekend meeting between Mugabe and South African President Thabo Mbeki, the regionally appointed mediator for the crisis.
A breakaway MDC opposition faction also attended the talks, but Tsvangirai refused to meet Mbeki, who has faced criticism over his quiet diplomacy approach.
Chinamasa said Western powers were trying to wreck chances of a negotiated settlement.
"It is very evident that their hand is involved and complicating the smooth dialogue between ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations," he said, referring to the ruling party.
Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off five days before the poll, citing rising violence against his supporters that left dozens dead and thousands injured.
His party also faced major obstacles in campaigning, with rallies barred and the MDC's number two leader, Tendai Biti, jailed on treason charges.
Biti, who was released on bail on June 26, appeared in court again Monday and was told to return for another hearing on August 27.
Tsvangirai finished ahead of the 84-year-old Mugabe in the March 29 first round of the election, but with an official vote total just short of the outright majority needed to secure the presidency.