July 2, 2008

Botswana Calls for Exclusion of Zimbabwe From AU Summit

Text of report by UK-based Zimbabwean news website Zimdaily.com on 2 July

[Unattributed report: "Botswana Wants Zim Kicked Out of AU"]

Egypt - Botswana called for the African Union [AU] on Tuesday to exclude Zimbabwe from its meetings because a disputed election did not give the government of President Robert Mugabe legitimacy.

Mugabe, 84, was sworn in for a new five-year term on Sunday after election authorities announced he had won a landslide victory in a one-candidate presidential run-off ballot that was boycotted by the opposition.

Botswana's Vice President Mompati Merafhe said his country believed the current government in Zimbabwe should be excluded from African Union meetings and gatherings of the Southern African Development Community.

"Their participation in the meetings of the two organizations would give unqualified legitimacy to a process which cannot be considered legitimate," a text of Merafhe's remarks said.

"Botswana's position is that such a scenario would be unacceptable," he told a closed session of African leaders at a summit in Egypt.

Merafhe said Botswana, a neighbour of Zimbabwe, supported an emerging consensus calling for mediation to find a political solution to the crisis.

"The personalities for the mediation process should be acceptable to both parties. It is also Botswana's strong view that the mediation process must treat both parties as equals."

Rwandan President has also added his voice -African governments need to take action to promote a compromise between the government of President Robert Mugabe and the opposition, Kagame said.

"We are not short on what people think. What we are short on is what people are doing to actually resolve the problem," the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, said in an interview at an AU summit in Egypt's Sharm-el-Sheikh.

"It's too late or it's not even possible to talk about a winner given such a background."

South Africa, which is trying to mediate in the dispute, is urging a negotiated settlement between Mugabe and the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC], Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the MDC, today said no talks are taking place while Deutsche Press Agentur said that a unity government has been ruled out by Mugabe, citing his spokesman, George Charamba.

The US and UK have led international calls for the African Union to condemn Mugabe's victory in a presidential runoff election on June 27, in which he was the sole candidate.

Tsvangirai withdrew from the poll, citing a state-sponsored campaign of violence that resulted in the deaths of 86 of his supporters and forced 200,000 to flee their homes. While he won the initial election in March he didn't garner the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff.

Talks will need to be held to "calm the situation," he said.

Kagame led the Rwandan Patriotic Front to victory in a civil war in his country after about 800,000 of his ethnic group, the Tutsi, were massacred by Hutu militia. Hutus are the biggest ethnic group in the east African country.

Kagame has criticized the United Nations and African states for not doing enough to stop the massacre.

Originally published by Zimdaily.com website, London, in English 2 Jul 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.