Disagreement delays

 

The conclusion of the summit of southern African leaders on Zimbabwe's election stalemate was meanwhile delayed by disagreement over the use of the word "crisis" in a final communique, a senior Zambian official said on Sunday.

 

Your Views

Should Mugabe concede defeat?

Send us your views

The delay to conclude the meeting has been caused by a disagreement on how the final communique should be phrased.

 

"Some leaders feel that including the word crisis will be inappropriate while others say the extraordinary conference in itself shows there is a crisis in Zimbabwe," said the official, who asked not to be named.

 

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, is not attending, though Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who claims to have won the presidential vote, took part.

Kalay Maistry, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Zambia, said that Tsvangirai did not look terrible happy while walking out at the end of the meeting that lasted for more than eight hours.

 

Before the summit started, Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, said there was no crisis over the elections in Zimbabwe.

 

Mbeki met Mugabe in the Zimbabwean capital Harare shortly before the South African leader set off for the SADC summit.

After meeting Mugabe, Mbeki said that Zimbabwe's electoral body should be given more time to release the poll results.

"There has been a natural process taking place and we are all awaiting the ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] to announce the results and there is also the matter of the court case," Mbeki said, referring to an opposition legal bid to force the result.

 

Plea for help

 

The summit in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, opened with a plea from the summit chairman not to ignore the Zimbabwean crisis.

 

Tsvangirai says he won the presidential
election
"SADC (Southern African Development Community) cannot stand by and do nothing when one of its members is experiencing political and economic pain. It would be wrong to turn a blind eye," Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president, told leaders of the 14-nation organisation.


Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front says neither the 84-year-old incumbent nor Tsvangirai won a clear victory in the election and insists the battle must go to a second round.

But the opposition has ruled out Tsvangirai's participation as it says a second ballot would be undemocratic due to Mugabe's intimidatory tactics.

The MDC has called for a general strike to be launched from Tuesday, the day after a court is due to rule on its bid to force the publication of the election result.