SADC leaders increase pressure on Mugabe

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) - The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) has urged Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to make democratic reforms ahead of scheduled elections.

A communique issued on Sunday night, after a summit of the community in Johannesburg, also called for the speeding up of the constitution-making process leading to elections.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) negotiator, Elton Mangoma, said the government had until August - when the next SADC meeting will be held - to implement the Global Political Agreement in full.

The agreement, which was first signed in 2008, is yet to be implemented in full as both MDC and Zanu-PF continue to disagree over outstanding issues, among them sanctions imposed by the West and state-sanctioned violence on selected party members.

Leaders of the 15-nation bloc on Saturday failed to reach consensus on the burning issues and resumed talks on Sunday. The group's security body in March slammed Mugabe, demanding an end to political violence and insisting that that the Global Political Agreement be implemented.

On Sunday, the SADC leaders called for speedier progress toward free and fair elections and vowed to take a more hands-on approach to ensure this is carried out.

South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique were tasked with working with Zimbabwean officials to enforce a power-sharing deal that Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party made made with Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.

The three-member Troika is an organ of summit and reports to the full 14-member summit, which can either endorse or reject the recommendations.

In other developments, African leaders on Sunday signed an agreement to launch talks on the continent's biggest free-trade bloc, a US$875 billion market seeking to boost the region's economies.

The proposed free trade area (FTA) would join three existing, and sometimes overlapping, blocs to maximise Africa's budding economic prospects.

The "Grand" Free Trade Area would cross 26 countries, stretching from Cape Town to Cairo.

"We meet fully conscious of the collective responsibility we bear towards Africa's founding fathers to create a single continental market of real economic value," said South Africa's President Jacob Zuma.
-0- PANA CU/SEG 13June2011

13 june 2011 08:40:25

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