‘Imperative’ to find solution to Zim crisis

Following his meeting on Sunday with Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was ”imperative” to find a solution to the worsening crisis in Zimbabwe.

After meeting with about 2 000 refugees at a centre in Johannesburg, Miliband said Britain would redouble its efforts to ensure that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s regime was not seen as ”a legitimate representation of the will of the people of Zimbabwe”.

Miliband also called for the international community to support United States-proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to be tabled in the coming days at the United Nations Security Council in New York.

Miliband arrived in South Africa earlier on Sunday for talks with Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma under the auspices of the South Africa-United Kingdom bilateral forum.

His visit follows South African President Thabo Mbeki’s attempt on Saturday to kickstart talks between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on a proposed government of national unity.

Mbeki held talks in Harare with Mugabe and members of a smaller faction of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change led by Arthur Mutambara.

Tsvangirai boycotted the talks. An MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said the conditions Tsvangirai had set out for talks, including the
presence of an African Union (AU) envoy, had not been met.

African Union heads of state meeting in Egypt during the week called on Mugabe and Tsvangirai to share power after Mugabe claimed victory in a controversial presidential run-off election he alone contested.

Tsvangirai, who won the first round of voting for president in March, withdrew from the run-off over a spate of attacks on his supporters by Mugabe supporters in the wake of the March election.

The MDC, the West and a handful of African countries are refusing to recognise Mugabe’s victory.

The impasse in Zimbabwe is expected to feature prominently in talks between leaders of the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations in Tokyo this week.

EU eyes Zim development aid if crisis lifted
The European Commission is ready to provide up to €250-million ($393-million) in development aid for Zimbabwe’s worst-hit sectors if the country gets a legitimate, credible government, the EU’s aid chief said.

The European Union’s executive arm would then also call for an international lifting of debt owed by the country, EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said.

”I would encourage the rest of the international donor community to make it clear today that it is ready to provide substantial and immediate assistance to Zimbabwe in the wake of a transition towards democracy,” Michel said.

The EU aid would go towards supporting hospitals, schools or the farming sector, he said in an opinion piece distributed to media.

The 27-country European Union called on Friday for a new election as soon as possible in Zimbabwe after a short transition from the rule of President Robert Mugabe. – Sapa-DPA

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