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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 22:14 GMT 23:14 UK
Zimbabwe fights to stay in IMF
Fuel queue in Zimbabwe
Zimbabweans face desperate shortages of fuel
Zimbabwe's central bank chief has been lobbying hard to prevent International Monetary Fund officials expelling it because of unpaid debts, reports say.

State radio said Gideon Gono held last minute meetings with key IMF names ahead of a vote on the country's ban.

Zimbabwe has been in arrears with the IMF since February 2001 because it failed to pay interest on the $4.5bn (2.5bn) it had borrowed from the fund.

Last month, it unexpectedly repaid $120m, but needs to find $175m more.

The IMF board met late on Friday to vote on the country's fate, should the group decide to be lenient it may just issue Zimbabwe with a warning.

Zimbabweans are facing a deep economic crisis, with high unemployment, rampant inflation, and food and fuel shortages.

Tough choice

Is there hope for the common man in Zimbabwe?
Omorodion Osula, USA

An IMF delegation returned to Washington from Harare on Friday last week after assessing progress made by President Robert Mugabe's government.

The delegation's report will form the basis of the IMF's decision on whether or not to expel Zimbabwe from the fund.

If the IMF expels Zimbabwe, it will make it more difficult for the country to borrow money in the future from both private and public lenders.

And it will not be eligible for IMF loans which aim to help countries in temporary economic difficulties - at the price of adherence to strict economic conditions.

To avoid being thrown out of the IMF, the country needs to win more than 15% of a vote to be held late on Friday.

Late drive

Mr Gono has now held 11th hour meetings in Washington with the head of the IMF's Africa department - the 20 African countries on the board hold 3.1% of the vote.

President Robert Mugabe at the opening of Zimbabwe's parliament in June

He has also had talks with the UK's representative Tom Scholar - the UK has 4.9% of the vote. Further discussions with France and Germany, who have a combined 11% of the vote, were also planned before the ballot.

Government officials have also denied newspaper reports that it raised the $130m to pay off a substantial sum of its arrears by raiding the foreign currency accounts of exporters.

Earlier the county's Finance Minister, Herbert Murerwa, also denied reports in South Africa's Business Day newspaper that he and Mr Gono would present the IMF meeting with a $50m cheque.

"We have already paid $120m and that's all for [the] time being," he told the AFP news agency. "We have paid a significant amount of the loan and we will not be making any payments now."

If Zimbabwe is ejected from the organisation, it will be the first country to be expelled since Czechoslovakia in 1954.

Scenes of poverty and desperation in Zimbabwe

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