S.Africa to Host new Summit on Zimbabwe Crisis in Pretoria

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa will host the next emergency summit on Zimbabwe, the foreign ministry said Thursday, as regional leaders were trying to save a Zimbabwean unity deal and stem a humanitarian crisis there.

President Robert Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to the summit after marathon talks on Monday failed to resolve their dispute over how to share control of powerful ministries under a unity government.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who mediated the talks earlier this week, will host the summit in Pretoria as the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the foreign ministry said in a statement.

All 15 member states will be represented, along with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and a splinter group. The statement did not say if heads of government would attend, after earlier summits on Zimbabwe drew only a handful of regional leaders.

The summit would mark the fourth time that all SADC members have gathered to discuss Zimbabwe’s crisis since disputed elections last March.

Regional leaders see the unity deal as the best chance for breaking Zimbabwe’s political deadlock and curbing the nation’s dramatic economic collapse.

March’s first round presidential election was followed by a brutal wave of political violence.

Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off, saying he had taken the decision because of violence against his supporters, leaving Mugabe to declare a one-sided victory in June.

Since then Zimbabwe has plunged ever deeper into crisis amid massive unemployment and crippling hyperinflation. More than 2,200 people have died from a cholera epidemic, while half the population is dependent on food aid.-AFP

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