- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Zimbabwe crisis has weakened regional unity-Angola
- Date: 19th July 2008
- Summary: (W4)DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA (JULY 18, 2008) (REUTERS) WIDE OF THE DURBAN INTERNATION CONFERENCE CENTRE VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS OUTSIDE THE CONFERENCE CENTER SADC MINISTERIAL DELEGATESS SEATED
- Embargoed: 3rd August 2008 13:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA6WQLH2PFI5N9J8XZG69ED7RHY
- Story Text: Zimbabwe crisis has weakened regional unity, Angola's foreign minister tells a summit of the Southern African Development Community in Durban.
The African Union, United Nations and a grouping of 14 southern African nations endorse South African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation of Zimbabwe's crisis talks.
Former South African Prime Minister F.W. de Klerk calls for expanded mediation efforts and sanctions that target Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's crisis has weakened the unity of the southern African body SADC, Angola's foreign minister said on Friday (July 18), suggesting the region is divided over how to deal with President Robert Mugabe's disputed re-election.
Talks between Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have stalled, with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai refusing to agree to full-blown negotiations that could pave the way for a national unity government.
Several African nations, including Zambia and Botswana, have broken ranks and condemned Mugabe's landslide victory in the June 27 run-off poll, which Tsvangirai boycotted because of attacks on his party's supporters.
"The SADC region is experiencing an unprecedented situation vis-a-vis the situation in Zimbabwe," Joao de Miranda said at the opening of a summit of the Southern African Development Community in Durban.
"I want to make a particular mention regarding common view of the member states about the relevant facts that have been occurring in our region, especially in Zimbabwe," he said.
The Angolan foreign minister added that regional unity and cohesion had become more fragile because of the problems in Zimbabwe, where the collapse of the economy has sent millions of refugees into neighbouring states.
South African President Thabo Mbeki has been mediating the preliminary talks between Mugabe's officials and the MDC, but has been accused of failing to make any progress and of favouring Mugabe with his discreet diplomatic approach.
Representatives of the African Union, the United Nations and the 14-nation SADC endorsed Mbeki's mediation on Friday after a briefing in Pretoria, Mbeki's office said. The South African leader was appointed by SADC last year to broker an agreement.
Mbeki met the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Defence Politics and Security, George Chikoti and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Assistant Secretary General Mr. Haile Menkerios.
"The election which took place on the 27th of June, was considered by SADC, the AU, and the UN Security Council to have taken conditions, a place in conditions, which are not appropriate, we as the facilitator stroke mediator had been interacting with the parties, in the Zimbabwe dialogue, prior to the 27th of June, where upon it was agreed that irrespective of what happens on the 27th of June, the parties remain committed to the search for a negotiated settlement." said the Minister of provincial and local government, Sydney Mufamadi.
" We have been fully briefed by the President, that what we were expecting, we are satisfied by the briefing, and we are satisfied by the decision that has been taken," Ping said.
The facilitator proposed the formation of a Reference Group consisting of the SADC, AU and the UN with which President Mbeki will liaise on an ongoing basis. The parties agreed to set up the Reference Group.
Tsvangirai wants an AU envoy to join the mediation before his MDC agrees to more substantial talks.
The opposition has also demanded an end to government-backed violence it says has killed 120 of its supporters and the acceptance of Tsvangirai's victory in the first round of the presidential vote on March 29.
The MDC leader fell short of an absolute majority in the March poll and withdrew from the second ballot less than a week before voting. He has refused to recognise Mugabe's re-election as have the United States, Britain and other Western nations.
Mugabe, 84, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has blamed the opposition for the bloodshed and insisted that it acknowledge his victory.
The AU has urged both sides to negotiate a power-sharing deal that would pave the way for a unity government, seen by many African leaders as the only way to avert further violence and total economic collapse.
Former South African Prime Minister F.W. de Klerk told reporters in Cape Town on Thursday (July 17) that new mediation measures were needed to solve the crisis in Zimbabwe.
He said he did not think any negotiation would succeed unless it was based on the result of the general election.
De Klerk said: "Any effort to impose President Mugabe as an executive president on a parliament with which he does not have a majority can't be an acceptable democratic solution."
He said he favoured "quite strong action not against Zimbabwe as a country, action which won't harm those who are already living in destitution but targeted sanctions or restrictions against the cabal which now is undemocratically in power."
While the talks to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis foundered, diplomats in Brussels said European Union members would agree on Tuesday to widen sanctions on Zimbabwe, including more travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe's inner circle and measures against firms linked to him.
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