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Daily Archives: August 19, 2008

Zimbabwe crisis talks to push ahead: minister

Zimbabwe's justice minister and chief negotiator for the ruling party said yesterday negotiations over the country's political crisis would push ahead and a deal signed "in the fullness of time".
"The negotiations will continue under the facilitation of President Mbeki," Patrick Chinamasa said on state television.
South African President Thabo Mbeki is the mediator for the Zimbabwe talks.
"It is our expectation as ZANU-PF that a deal will be concluded in the fullness of time so that we can put behind us the divisions, conflict, the polarisation, that in fact has divided our country."
Chinamasa's comments followed a weekend summit of regional leaders in South Africa that ended with Zimbabwe's political rivals deadlocked over how to share power.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Sunday after the meeting that talks would continue.
In his comments yesterday, Chinamasa also raised the possibility of convening parliament.
"They were elected for five years and already five months of that is gone without performing the functions of their office," he said.
"Sooner or later parliament must convene, MPs must be sworn in and we carry on with the business of running the country."
Mbeki, speaking of the findings of a regional security meeting on Zimbabwe, said after the summit on Sunday that parliament may have to convene as talks continued.
The ruling party lost its majority in parliament in March elections for the first time since independence in 1980.
However, ZANU-PF and a smaller opposition faction led by Arthur Mutambara would have a majority if they combined forces.
Zimbabwe's political crisis intensified after President Robert Mugabe's re-election in a widely condemned June run-off poll.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai boycotted the vote despite finishing ahead of Mugabe in the March first round, citing rising violence against his supporters.

Storm Fay lashes Cuba after leaving 11 dead across Caribbean

Tropical storm Fay pummelled western Cuba early yesterday and barrelled toward the Florida Keys after claiming at least 11 lives in the Dominican Republic and Haiti amid forecasts it would hit hurricane force.
Four people were killed in the Dominican Republic due to the heavy rains, while thousands were evacuated, local media reported.
In Haiti, where a bus plunged into a river reportedly killing dozens, the heavy rains killed seven people and left another three missing, civil protection officials said.
Maximum sustained winds from the sixth storm of the Atlantic hurricane season were clocked at 85 kilometres per hour, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Centre said.
But, the centre said that "Fay could be approaching hurricane strength when it nears the Florida Keys yesterday night."
At 1400 Macau time, the storm was located about 180 kilometres southeast of Havana.
Fay was moving westwards at 20 kilometres per hour, and expected to turn north later yesterday.
"There exists a possibility of moderate flooding on the southern and northern shores of the island and in its western parts," warned Jose Rubiera, director of the Centre of Forecasts at the Cuban Institute of Meteorology.
After crossing Cuba, Fay was then expected to head up the west coast of Florida, hitting land near Tampa this afternoon and moving straight north into Georgia.
In the Dominican Republic, more than 2,000 people were evacuated to shelters as the storm felled trees, damaged hundreds of houses and uprooted power lines disrupting supplies to more than 15,000 homes, according to local news reports.
At least four people were killed in its deadly trail.
Fay had earlier raked across Haiti, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, and red alerts were posted along with orders to evacuate flood zones as heavy rains and winds battered much of the country.
"Most of Haiti is under heavy rains, especially in the south, with winds clocked at about 70 kilometres per hour," Ronald Semelfort, an official with Haiti's meteorological service, said.
Civil Protection officials said the heavy rains killed seven people across the country and left three others missing, two near the capital Port-au-Prince and one in the southern part of the country.
Haiti's national weather service lifted a tropical storm warning on the island, but cautioned people living in flood and landslide-prone areas.
With the storm expected to gather strength over the open water between Haiti and Cuba, Havana warned residents in the south to brace for the storm.
More than 15,000 people have been evacuated from Cuba's southern coastal areas between Matanzas and Havana, where Fay is expected to pass.
A hurricane watch was in effect in eight of Cuba's 14 provinces, including Havana. Tropical storm warnings were in force in the Cayman Islands and southwestern Haiti, and a tropical storm watch in central Bahamas and Jamaica.
In Miami, residents descended on gas stations and supermarkets to fill up on petrol and bottled water as well as other emergency items.
Local television stations broadcast warnings about possible business shutdowns and power cuts.