African leaders back Zimbabwe

Southern African leaders urge lifting of sanctions to facilitate power-sharing pact.

    Zimbabweans have been struggling under
    a crumbling economy [EPA]

    Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, and long-time foe Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister, agreed to share power in February as part of a deal backed by the SADC to end a political crisis that followed disputed polls last year.

    But the accord has been beset with problems.

    Political solution

    Jacob Zuma, the South African president, had kicked off the regional meeting on Monday by asking Zimbabwe's leaders to end the row over their power-sharing pact that is holding up vital foreign aid to its battered economy.

    A push by Morgan Tsvangirai, left, for pressure on Mugabe failed to gain traction [Reuters]
    Tsvangirai who attended the two-day meeting called on the regional leaders to press Mugabe to fully implement the power-sharing agreement.

    On Monday, his spokesman announced that SADC leaders were in favour of calling an extraordinary summit to deal with key sticking points that have slowed implementation of the deal.

    But on Tuesday the regional leaders backed away from the possibility of special talks and placed no conditions on Mugabe in exchange for the call to remove sanctions, which include travel bans and asset freezes against Mugabe and his inner circle.

    "There was no reason for us to attach conditions to the calling of the countries that have applied sanctions to lift sanctions," Zuma, the SADC's outgoing chairman, told reporters.
     
    A recovery in Zimbabwe's battered economy is important for South Africa because millions of Zimbabweans have been driven to seek work in their much wealthier neighbour.

    Following the SADC's final statement, George Charamba, Mugabe's press secretary, said the international community was hurting the regional body by continuing to impose "unjustified and illegal" sanctions on Zimbabwe.

    "Please, do us a favour, remove them," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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