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Daily Archives: August 9, 2008

Mugabe, Zimbabwe opposition leader to meet tomorrow

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will meet tomorrow with the two sides drawing nearer to a power-sharing agreement, a newspaper reported yesterday.
The Harare meeting will take place with South African President Thabo Mbeki, the mediator for the talks, expected to fly to Zimbabwe this weekend, Business Day reported.
Citing unnamed sources, the paper reported that the meeting "would decide whether ZANU-PF and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change would come up with a final power-sharing deal this weekend."
Mugabe's spokesman on Thursday called reports of a deal in power-sharing talks "nonsense", but both he and South Africa said negotiations over the country's crisis were advancing.
"All this talk about an agreement that has supposed to have been reached, which is being reported, is utter nonsense," George Charamba told AFP, saying Mugabe had asked him to relay the message.
Power-sharing talks following Mugabe's controversial re-election began in South Africa after Zimbabwe's political rivals signed an accord on July 21 laying the groundwork for negotiations.
An opposition spokesman said on Thursday that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller faction of the MDC, would hold a meeting in Harare soon.
Mutambara spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa said negotiators were expected to return home from South Africa on Friday and the meeting would take place afterward.
Zimbabwe's political crisis intensified after Mugabe's victory in a June 27 presidential run-off election widely condemned as a farce.
Tsvangirai boycotted the run-off after finishing ahead of Mugabe in the March first round, citing violence against his supporters that had killed dozens and injured thousands.

Makeshift bombs defused in French tourist hotspot


Police defused three makeshift bombs in a busy tourist resort and on a high-speed rail line in the French Basque country, officials said yesterday.
More than 1,000 tourists were evacuated in the middle of the night from their holiday homes after firefighters received a telephone tip-off alerting them to a total of five explosive devices in the southwestern region.
Two were found in the Basque village of Arcangues, in a holiday resort and outside the tourism office, and a third on a TGV rail line near the Atlantic town of Ondres, at the northern edge of the Basque country.
Officials said all three devices had been easily defused, and that holidaymakers had been allowed to return to their accommodation Friday morning.
"The explosive devices turned out to be makeshift contraptions, of limited power and defective," the local prefecture in Pau said in a statement. "All the sites have been secured and reopened to the public."
Bomb disposal experts searched three other sites named by the anonymous caller, who gave the alert at around 4:00 am (10:00 am in Macau), but uncovered no evidence of explosives.
The sites were a seafront casino in Biarritz, an exclusive hotel and restaurant run by star French chef Alain Ducasse in the Basque town of Biadarray and a holiday village in the town of Anglet.
"No suspect elements were found," said an official at the regional prefecture in Pau.
Officials earlier said the device planted on the rail line was thought to be a gas canister equipped with a detonator. No details were given of the other devices.
Rail traffic was cut along the southwestern Atlantic coast following the bomb alert, while the rail station in Bordeaux was shut for two hours to allow a safety inspection on a night train arriving from Paris.
Anti-terrorism police and gendarmes have opened a joint investigation, a police official said.
The scare comes after a French-based Basque separatist group warned in April that it planned a campaign of attacks in Spain and France to further its call for an independent Basque homeland.
The little-known group, whose name Irrintzi means "Shout" in Basque, has claimed half a dozen low-level attacks or attempted attacks since August 2007 in the Basque region of southwest France, targeting estate agents, tourist sites and a police station.
Police in France also regularly detain suspected members of Spain's armed separatist group ETA, which is blamed for the deaths of 823 people in a 40-year campaign of bombings and shootings to carve a Basque homeland out of northern Spain and southwestern France.
ETA, whose initials stand for Euskadi ta Askatasuna, or Basque Homeland and Freedom in the Basque language, is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.
In recent month it has been hit by a string of arrests of high-profile members, and seizures of weapons caches.