Zimbabwe

SADC to meet in S.Africa on Zimbabwe crisis

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By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Regional leaders will hold a summit in South Africa on Sunday aimed at breaking a stalemate in negotiations threatening Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition MDC are deadlocked over cabinet positions in a power-sharing government the two rivals agreed to form on Sept. 15.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Tsvangirai would attend the summit and the opposition party expected the 15-nation regional grouping to put increase pressure on Mugabe.

"Mr. Tsvangirai will be going to the meeting, and we hope that the summit will help to break the impasse. SADC has to use its leverage, especially on Mugabe to see sense and to see that people are suffering," Chamisa said.

South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa told Reuters the meeting would also discuss recent fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The heads of state of Mozambique, Swaziland and Angola, who form regional group SADC's security committee, and Zimbabwe's political parties, failed last month to secure a breakthrough in talks on the formation of Zimbabwe's cabinet.

While some SADC leaders have taken a tough line against Mugabe, the group has failed in several meetings to persuade Zimbabwe's parties to bury their differences and get on with the task of easing the economic crisis.

Setting up a unity government is seen as critical to halting Zimbabwe's economic meltdown, with official inflation in July at 231 million percent although the Washington-based Cato Institute foundation estimates it is now at 2.79 quintillion percent.

Ordinary Zimbabweans struggle to survive with chronic meat, milk and other basic commodities shortages.

"The suffering of the people of Zimbabwe places a duty and obligation on all (political) players, both in Zimbabwe and the region, to try to provide a relief by resolving this issue fairly and amicably," the MDC's Chamisa said.

The country's political crisis has been dragging on since late March when a disputed election forced a run-off presidential vote in June which was won by Mugabe after Tsvangirai withdrew citing violence against his supporters.

Botswana's President Seretse Khama Ian Khama said on Monday the only solution to the neighbouring country's political deadlock would be a re-run of the presidential election under international supervision.

"It should be unacceptable for ruling parties to seek to manipulate election outcomes to extend their stay in power, as this is bad for democracy on our continent," Khama said.

(Writing by Marius Bosch)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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