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Daily Archives: October 18, 2008

World peace efforts hampered by credit crunch, says Nobel Ahtisaari

Image  The international financial crisis is hampering efforts towards world peace, Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari warned yesterday.
Speaking during a visit to London, the former Finnish president said a lack of economic development in war-torn countries would make it harder to resolve conflicts.
"It will not help us to solve conflict with no economic development in those countries," Ahtisaari said. "It is becoming more and more difficult."
"We are avoiding taking the tough decisions that are needed," he added.
He maintained, however, that he was hopeful of peace taking hold, noting Kenya and Zimbabwe as "two recent examples of where countries can get together and solve their own problems."
"They no longer need people like me. They can do it on their own."
Asked what would be the impact on his life of winning the prestigious award, Ahtisaari said it "means for me more work."
"I'm now 71 and I'm sort of dreaming of retirement, but one of the first phone calls that I got was from one of my dear friends and he told me: 'Of course you cannot retire, you have a moral duty to do twice as much.'"
Ahtisaari, who has been a diplomat for more than three decades, also spoke of his experience of conflicts, arguing they were all different.
"The only uniting factor is that they have all been difficult," he said.
"When I'm asked what is the most important (thing) you've done, I always say Namibia because it lasted long, it last too long," he said, referring to his work in the country in various capacities between 1977 and its independence in 1990.
Had Namibia not achieved independence when it did, he added, "change wouldn't have taken place in South Africa as fast as it did."
Questioned about his proposals for internationally supervised independence for Kosovo, where he had been a UN special envoy, Ahtisaari said the plans — which were never adopted after the Security Council failed to agree to them — were "fair," adding it was a "just solution based on the values I firmly believe."
His mediation efforts failed to clinch an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo. In February, Pristina unilaterally declared independence.
He added: "If we don't honour our own values, then what are we?… I firmly believe we can solve all the conflicts in the world. I don't accept any excuse."

Zimbabwe rivals to resume talks to break deadlock

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by Godfrey Marawanyika*

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai were set yesterday to resume power-sharing talks for a fourth day to end a spat on key cabinet posts holding up a new unity government.
After nearly eight hours of talks mediated by former South African leader Thabo Mbeki on Thursday, negotiations remained stalled over how to divide the most important ministries.
Mugabe told reporters while leaving the negotiations that he hoped for a breakthrough yesterday.
"I would not want to call the delay dillydallying, but we have made a lot of compromises. Everyone has made some compromises and we hope that this will be all concluded tomorrow," state media on Friday quoted him as saying.
The parties had "some good discussions", the 84-year-old said in the state mouthpiece the Herald newspaper.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Nelson Chamisa said there had been some advances "but not enough to seal the deal".
Speaking to AFP on Friday, Chamisa said the MDC would not shift on demands for a equitable share of ministries. Mugabe awarded key cabinet posts to his ruling ZANU-PF last weekend in defiance of a power-sharing deal inked last month.
"We are very clear we are not going to compromise," he said. "There is no going back on fundamental issues, we will not play second fiddle to ZANU-PF."
A unity government has failed to materialise since a landmark power-sharing agreement was brokered by Mbeki in September following marathon talks with the Zimbabwe's three main political rivals.
This week Mbeki flew to Harare in a bid of saving the deal which was meant to rescue Zimbabwe from economic and political chaos.
Under the power-sharing deal, the 84-year-old Mugabe would remain president while MDC leader Tsvangirai would take the new post of prime minister.
Tsvangirai threatened to pull out of the agreement after Mugabe last weekend announced he would award key ministries to his own party, giving him a firm grip on the military, police and other security agencies.
A senior government official speaking on condition of anonymity on Thursday said that Tsvangirai's MDC had insisted on control of the home affairs ministry, which oversees the police, widely accused of human rights abuses.
"The proposal was that the MDC gets the ministry of finance and the home affairs ministry would be rotated (between the parties) over a period of time or years, but this was not acceptable to the MDC," the official told AFP.
Tsvangirai won first round presidential vote in March, but pulled out of a June run-off, saying the violence had left more than 100 of his supporters dead.
Mugabe's victory in the uncontested run-off drew international condemnation, and Western nations have heaped pressure on his regime to make good on the power-sharing deal.
The European Union has threatened to impose new sanctions on the regime if the deal falls apart, while the United States accused him of violating the agreement.
With the government in limbo, hopes have dimmed for salvaging Zimbabwe's economy, as the country grapples with the world's highest inflation rate at 231 million percent.
Once one of Africa's most prosperous nations, Zimbabwe's stunning economic collapse has caused critical food shortages, with nearly half its people needing UN aid and 80 percent of the population living in poverty.