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Daily Archives: November 10, 2008

Zimbabwe rivals unyielding ahead of crisis summit

Zimbabwe's ruling party and opposition leaders looked set to dig their heels in on power-sharing demands ahead of a crunch summit of southern African leaders in South Africa yesterday.
Regional leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gathered in Johannesburg in a last-ditch bid to save a fragile deal aimed at creating a unity government, which teetered on the brink of collapse.
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and rival Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) appeared mulish on the allocation of key cabinet posts which stalled the September 15 deal.
Regional leaders have long been divided on how to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis and calls are mounting for them to get tough with Mugabe as they play what is seen as their last card for the troubled country.
Executive secretary Tomaz Salomao said the summit was a "crucial, crucial moment for Zimbabwe" as time was fast running out for the troubled country where inflation has soared to 231 million percent and five million people needed food aid.
But the parties ratcheted up their rhetoric on the eve of the key meeting, both refusing to budge from their positions and blaming each other for the stalemate.
"Tomorrow is make or break. Either there is a deal or no deal," a top government official said ahead of a meeting by ministers who thrashed out a plan to break the lockjam Saturday night.
"If Morgan and his team continue to make outrageous demands, shifting goalposts, we will go it alone and we don't care what the world will say."
Hailed as a step toward ending months of political turmoil and Zimbabwe's descent into economic chaos, the deal became bogged down by disagreements over who would control the most powerful cabinet posts.
A source close to Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said the opposition party would abandon the deal unless there was a major change in mindset from their opponents.
"Unless there is a major shift in position from ZANU-PF we will not accept this deal. We will resort to Plan B which is they might go it alone and they form their own government, as we are not prepared to accept anything that is not worthwhile for Zimbabweans."
The two parties are bickering over the allocation of the home affairs ministry — the most controversial portfolio with control over police and internal security.
Southern African leaders have been urged to pressure parties into agreement at the emergency summit of the 15-nation bloc, with South Africa taking an unusually tough position, warning this week the stalemate threatened regional stability.
"We believe South Africa and the region cannot be held to ransom by parties who are failing to reach agreement on the allocation of cabinet posts," government spokesman Themba Maseko told reporters Thursday.
However while SADC is optimistic about the meeting — one of many held since disputed elections in March — political analyst Claude Baissac said "they will not succeed" because ZANU-PF would not give up power.
"They (ZANU-PF) don't have a plan B," he said, adding that the summit was SADC's last chance to obtain credibility in dealing with regional issues.
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the March first-round presidential vote, but pulled out of a June run-off, accusing the regime of violence against his supporters that Amnesty International estimates left at least 180 dead.



Sudan-Chad set to return ambassadors

by Jennie Matthew*

Troubled neighbours Sudan and Chad are to exchange ambassadors yesterday, six months after diplomatic ties were ruptured over tit-for-tat accusations of support for rebels, diplomats said.
Libya, which brokered an agreement between Chad and Sudan about two weeks ago, will send a plane to fly the ambassadors to their embassies.
"The Libyan plane will take the Chadian ambassador to Khartoum and then return to Ndjamena with the Sudanese ambassador on board," said a Libyan foreign ministry official, quoted by the official JANA news agency.
Sudanese officials confirmed the arrangements, but said it was unclear when exactly the Chadian ambassador would arrive or his Sudanese counterpart would board the same plane bound for Ndjamena.
Sudan broke off diplomatic relations with Chad in May, accusing Ndjamena of sponsoring an unprecedented assault by Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, on the capital Khartoum.
Chad denied any involvement and accused Sudan of backing a Chadian rebel push on Ndjamena that reached the gates of the presidential palace before being repulsed in February.
Relations between the two countries have long been tumultuous. Analysts and foreign diplomats say it is clear that each has equipped and financed rebel movements fighting the other's regime.
The former president of Burundi, Pierre Buyoya, heads an African Union mission drawing up recommendations to build confidence between the countries, but said there was a long way to go before overcoming the huge difficulties.
"I think they are serious, but the matter is very difficult because the level of mistrust is very deep," he told reporters in Khartoum late Saturday.
"Many meetings have taken place, many agreements have been done, but the implementation is not there. One of the main obstacles is the activity of the rebellions in the two countries," Buyoya said.
In Tripoli last month, Chad and Sudan agreed not to assist rebels.
"Each side says, if the other one stops (supporting the rebels), I'll stop. It's a kind of vicious circle. We have to break this vicious circle from somewhere, but it's a reality," said Buyoya.
The enmity has had serious repercussions for nearly six years of conflict in western Sudan's Darfur region, which lies on the border with Chad.
"This problem has to be solved then to create the condition to solve the big issue of Darfur. If not, it will be impossible to have a solution in Darfur," said the former president of Burundi.
Sudan has been on a diplomatic push to mend relations since the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested an arrest warrant against President Omar al-Beshir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Before May 2008, Chad and Sudan broke off diplomatic ties in 2006 for four months after a rebel attack on Chad.