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The BBC's Grant Ferret in Harare
"The Nigerian President said the issue affected almost everyone in Zimbabwe"
 real 28k

Thursday, 30 November, 2000, 18:05 GMT
Nigeria pressures Zimbabwe on land
Farm in Zimbabwe
The UK asked Nigeria to mediate over the land issue
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has urged Zimbabwe to follow strictly the rule of law in resolving the land issue.

Mr Obasanjo also called on the international community to give financial support to Zimbabwe so that white farmers can be paid compensation for any land redistributed to landless blacks.

The Nigerian President was speaking after talks with President Robert Mugabe and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in Harare.

What I think Zimbabwe should do is to strictly follow the law that is already in place for the resolution of this problem

President Obasanjo
He said they all understood the negative effect the issue was having on the Zimbabwean economy.

President Obasanjo said they also discussed the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Zimbabwe is supporting the government in Kinshasa with 12,000 troops.

Mr Mugabe visited Nigeria earlier this month, and sought its backing for plans to redistribute white-owned farmland to black owners.

The talks came ahead of a visit by United Nations envoy Mark Malloch Brown on Friday.

UN mission

Mr Brown, the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is expected to focus on possible UN help for Zimbabwe in devising an internationally-acceptable land reform plan.

Mbeki and Mugabe
Mugabe (right) believes he can count on Mbeki's support
The land issue in Zimbabwe has been the focus of international attention since early this year, when supporters of the president occupied farms owned by the white minority.

The government condoned and even encouraged the illegal occupations, arguing that the ancestors of today's white Zimbabweans had stolen the land, and accusing former colonial power Britain of reneging on promises to pay for the redistribution of land.

Mr Mbeki has frequently stood up for Mr Mugabe in the international arena, but last month issued an unprecedented condemnation of his disregard for the rule of law and his country's economic decline.

Analysts say that the decline of Zimbabwe's economy damages international perceptions of the economic prospects of southern Africa as a whole, including those of South Africa, a major trading partner of Zimbabwe's.

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See also:

02 Aug 00 | Business
Zimbabwe devalues currency
03 Aug 00 | Africa
Mugabe denies farm truce
08 Aug 00 | Africa
Summit backs Zimbabwe over land
26 Apr 00 | Africa
Who owns the land?
17 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The politics of fear
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