‘West a threat to talks’

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WESTERN powers now pose a new threat to the outcome of the on-going talks for a negotiated political settlement between Zanu PF and the MDC by insisting they will only recognise an all-inclusive government if it is led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

 

Diplomatic sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the result of the negotiations between Zanu PF and the MDC should reflect the “will of the people” as shown by the outcome of the March 29 presidential election.

Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe, but failed to garner the 50%-plus votes to assume the presidency, prompting a run-off on June 27 which the opposition leader boycotted.

South African president Thabo Mbeki is mediating in the Sadc-brokered talks between Zanu PF and both formations of the MDC and expects a deal to be clinched next week.

In a memorandum of understanding signed by Zanu PF and the MDC, the parties agreed as part of the agenda to come up with a “global political agreement”.

But the sources said any deal that failed to give Tsvangirai executive powers as the head of a transitional government would be rejected by a group of Western donor nations, commonly known as the Fishmongers Group, set up a year ago at Britain’s instigation.

The group includes the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Holland, Norway, Australia and Canada — countries which have since said Mugabe was not legitimately elected.

“Whatever agreement the talks produce, Tsvangirai must head the government,” one of the diplomatic sources said. “The unity government must have close ties with the Western donors and that can only happen if the countries accept the outcome of the talks.”

The sources said once the donors reject the agreement, sanctions imposed on the country would remain intact and Zimbabwe’s economic crisis would worsen.

International media reports this week suggested the Fishmongers Group had a “veto” over the negotiations and were waiting in the wings for the outcome of the talks.

The US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, this week told the Independent that Mugabe should respect the will of voters as expressed on March 29.

“Ordinary Zimbabweans clearly stated a desire for change in the March 29 elections and the US wants to see the will of the Zimbabwean people respected,” McGee said.

He added that the US imposed fresh sanctions last Friday to pressure Mugabe and his government to accept the outcome of the first round of the presidential election.

Britain on Tuesday said the United Nations Security Council may have to review its position on Zimbabwe if there was no progress in resolving the country’s decade-long crisis.

Karen Pierce, Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, said the Security Council had received a sober report on Zimbabwe’s situation from the multilateral organisation’s special envoy to the crisis, Haile Menkerios.

“We wish those efforts well but it’s clear that if we don’t make progress soon or don’t see progress soon in Zimbabwe, that the council will have to come back to this issue,” Pierce said.

By Constantine Chimakure

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