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Page last updated at 09:24 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 10:24 UK

African talks on Zimbabwe crisis

Election posters in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe looks set for a run-off vote but the opposition is crying foul

African Union foreign ministers are in Tanzania and will discuss the Zimbabwe crisis a day after a visit to Harare by their newly installed chairman.

Jean Ping met both President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwean Election Commission on Monday.

Over the weekend, he met South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been mediating on Zimbabwe.

The AU meeting may discuss a possible African-wide initiative as Zimbabweans await a presidential run-off date.

They are also meeting to discuss how to strengthen the organisation's economic and political functions. The AU came in for scathing criticism earlier this year, when an audit into its performance was released.

It has also been widely criticised for its handling of some of the continent's most intractable conflicts.

Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai won the most votes in the poll, but is still debating whether to contest a second-round run-off.

His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the government delayed giving the results for more than a month so it could carry out a campaign of violence against opposition supporters ahead of a run-off.

election results

Zimbabwe's ruling party has called on its supporters to refrain from violence in the second round.

Zanu-PF's Nathan Shamuyarira was quoted by the state-run Herald as saying: "We are urging our people to go and campaign peacefully. We are also urging the opposition to avoid violence and respect people's lives."

Results published by Zimbabwe's electoral commission last week gave MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai more votes than President Robert Mugabe, but not the 50% needed to avoid a run-off.

Mr Mugabe has said he will stand in a run-off, but a date for the second round of voting has yet to be set.

Mr Mugabe would win automatically if his rival refused to take part.

On Sunday, Mr Tsvangirai's MDC said it was discussing the conditions under which it could take part in a second round.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband has called for international observers to be sent to Zimbabwe immediately if the run-off is to stand any chance of being legitimate.

Zimbabwe's reserve bank has begun circulating new notes with face-values of 100m and 250m Zimbabwe dollars.

The notes were introduced to help cope with inflation which officially stands at more than 165,000%, but which economists say is probably far higher.


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