Mugabe open to talks on unity government: Mbeki

July 2nd, 2008 - 2:13 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Johannesburg, July 2 (DPA) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has told African Union leaders he is open to talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on a unity government, according to South African President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki, whom the AU has endorsed to continue as mediator in Zimbabwe, was speaking after an AU heads of state summit in Egypt Tuesday ended with a call for a government of national unity in Zimbabwe.

Despite Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba Tuesday ruling out a Kenya-style unity government Mbeki said: “No, there was no objection.”

“He was fully supportive of the cooperation and dialogue between Zimbabwe’s political parties to find solutions to the challenges they face,” Mbeki told South African radio.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has ruled out joining a government of national unity with Mugabe as leader.

“We stand for a transitional government led by Morgan Tsvangirai which would allow us to create the environment for free and fair elections,” Tsvangirai’s spokesman George Sibotshiwe told South African radio.

Mugabe was sworn in as president for another five years Sunday following a run-off presidential election he alone contested.

Tsvangirai took the most votes in the first round of voting in March but boycotted the run-off over a spate of state-backed militia attacks on his supporters.

The AU summit neither endorsed nor discredited Mugabe’s victory grab.

Only Botswana, Sierra Leone and Kenya, through its Prime Minister Raila Odinga, denounced Mugabe, with Botswana calling for him to be excluded from AU talks.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the new chair of the EU’s rotating presidency, said the EU “will not accept a government other than one led by Mr Tsvangirai”.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, speaking at a function in Cape Town Tuesday evening, also called for the MDC to have the “prominent part” in any unity government.
DPA

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