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Daily Archives: August 13, 2008

Zimbabwe rivals set for make or break talks to end crisis

by Godfrey Marawanyika*

Zimbabwe's rivals were to resume make or break power-sharing talks yesterday after two days of negotiations failed to produce a deal following Robert Mugabe's widely condemned re-election.
The talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki were planned to start after a speech by President Mugabe to mark national Armed Forces Day, a government official said.
"It's unknowable when a deal will be reached but the president is due back from Zimbabwe later today," Mbeki spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said.
The rivals have refused to comment on details of the talks, but a South African newspaper reported that the ruling ZANU-PF was blaming opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for stalling a deal.
"A ZANU-PF official said Tsvangirai wanted a transfer of power to him and not a deal to share power," Business Day reported.
The Star newspaper, also in South Africa, quoted a "member of the talks" as saying the opposition was objecting to Mugabe's insistence on holding on to presidential powers, in an apparent reference to offers that would see him take on a more ceremonial role.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the head of a smaller MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, had spent some four hours at a Harare hotel on Monday in the follow-up to marathon talks the previous day.
Asked about sticking points as he left the hotel last evening, the 84-year-old president said "they will be overcome," adding that the talks were to continue yesterday.
Tsvangirai said as he exited that "we will advise on progress later."
Both Mbeki's government and Mugabe had reported progress in the talks ahead of the South African leader's arrival in Harare on Saturday.
But the political rivals have said little publicly about what sticking points were holding up the discussions over the last couple days.
Speaking earlier Monday during commemorations honouring fighters who died in the liberation war against white minority rule, Mugabe said Zimbabwe "was not for sale" and "will never be a colony again".
He also called for "unity guided by basic principles".
"If you are on the enemy's side or you are being used by enemies, stop it," said Mugabe.
The Zimbabwean leader has often sought to portray Tsvangirai as a stooge of former colonial power Britain, though his rhetoric has cooled in recent weeks after the two sides engaged in talks.
He said "when somebody makes you turn against each other, you don't say we are no longer family members."
Sunday's talks broke up more than 13 hours after the leaders gathered at the hotel, with Mugabe saying afterwards he was "confident" a deal was within reach.
Zimbabwe's crisis intensified after Mugabe's re-election in a June 27 presidential run-off widely condemned as a sham.
Tsvangirai boycotted the presidential run-off despite finishing ahead of Mugabe in the March first round vote, citing violence against his supporters that had killed dozens and injured thousands.
The opposition leader believes his first-round total gives him the right to the lion's share of power. The ruling ZANU-PF party has insisted Mugabe must be recognised as president in any deal, as he won on June 27.
Negotiations have reportedly included proposals for Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, to take on a more ceremonial role in exchange for amnesty from prosecution, with Tsvangirai being made executive prime minister.


Yemen says leading Qaeda fugitive killed in shootout

Yemen said yesterday that a prominent fugitive member of the local branch of Al-Qaeda was killed in a shootout when police stormed a house in the eastern province of Hadramaut.
Hamza al-Quayti, one of 23 Al-Qaeda militants who broke out of jail in February 2006, was killed along with four other fighters in Monday's clash in the town of Tarim, the defence ministry website September 26 said.
Two policemen were killed and three others wounded, while two militants were wounded and captured, it added.
The ministry said the militants who were hiding in a house stormed by security forces had formed a cell which "planned to execute terror attacks and bombings in Yemen and abroad."
It said police found explosives and documents including Arab passports, including two belonging to Saudis.
It claimed the cell was behind attacks including a suicide car bombing that killed eight Spanish tourists and two Yemeni guides at a historic site in Marib, east of Sanaa, in July 2007.
The group was also behind a foiled attack on oil installations in Marib in 2006, and a suicide car bombing last month in the Hadramaut town of Sayun, in which one policeman was killed and 17 people wounded, it added.
Three of the 23 Al-Qaeda escapees remain at large, five have been killed and 15 others recaptured.
Yemen, the ancestral home of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and one of the most poverty-stricken countries on the planet, sided with the United States in its "war on terror".
In October 2000, 17 US sailors were killed when suicide bombers aboard a small boat attacked the destroyer USS Cole off the southern port of Aden in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda.