African leaders put pressure on Mugabe for urgent political deal

Sharm El Sheikh- Egypt (PANA) -- African leaders were Monday piling pressure on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to negotiate a political settlement with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as the African Union (AU) summit got underway here But the opposition said it would negotiate only if a transitional authority for Zimbabwe was formed with its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, at the helm.
MDC Vice President Thokozani Khupe told PANA the AU leaders should urgently nullify the elections held last Friday, saying it was more of a war than an election which her party could not contest.
She also appealed to the leaders gathering here to ensure that the formation of a transitional government was only a temporary solution.
"We are saying this should not be an end.
They should also consider who has the mandate of the people," she said.
Mugabe was sworn in to a new, five-year tenure Sunday, two days after the presidential run-off which was boycotted by the MDC.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon asked African leaders to consider the aspects of a "negotiated political settlement'' to the crisis in the country, but warned that such should not be allowed to become a permanent solution.
Speaking during the opening session of the AU Summit here Monday, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro said the crisis in Zimbabwe was the greatest test of African leader's efforts to show their commitment to democracy.
"This is the single-greatest challenge to the people of Zimbabwe, who are facing an extremely grave crisis.
This is the single greatest challenge to regional stability in Southern Africa," Migiro, a former Tanzanian Foreign Minister, said.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is the AU chairman, said the Zimbabwean crisis was an issue of concern to the continent, especially after the challenges faced during the 27 June presidential run-off.
He praised the people of Zimbabwe, but did not formally congratulate President Mugabe, who was present at the Summit on Monday.
AU Commission President Jean Ping said the Summit would offer some "concrete resolutions" on the problems facing Zimbabwe and the African continent in general.

30 june 2008 15:10:00




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