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African call for Zimbabwe unity

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe at AU summit
President Mugabe faced criticism by some African leaders

African leaders have called for a government of national unity in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe was re-elected unopposed last week.

The resolution was approved at an African Union summit in Egypt, which also saw strong criticism of Mr Mugabe by Zimbabwe's neighbour Botswana.

The presidential run-off was boycotted by the opposition candidate, citing widespread state-sponsored violence.

Both sides have so far ruled out forming a power-sharing government.

'Go hang'

At the end of a two-day summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, AU leaders approved a resolution calling for the "creation of a government of national unity" in Zimbabwe.

It also encouraged both sides to live up to pledges to start dialogue to promote stability.

We want a transition that is going to work on a new constitution, demilitarise the institutions of Zanu-PF, reform them, and then have elections
Morgan Tsvangirai
MDC leader

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki told South African radio President Mugabe had raised no objection to the resolution.

Mr Mbeki said the Zimbabwean leader was fully supportive of the need for dialogue to find a political solution.

However Mr Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, earlier said Zimbabwe would not form a grand coalition like that set up in Kenya to resolve post-election violence there.

"We have our own history of evolving dialogue and resolving political impasses the Zimbabwean way. The Zimbabwean way, not the Kenyan way," he told reporters.

Mr Chambara also rejected criticism of the election, and said the West could "go and hang a thousand times".

Meanwhile Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said a power-sharing deal was unlikely to be helpful in the case of Zimbabwe.

In an interview with a French broadcaster, Mr Tsvangirai said: "It's almost an elite pact between the leaderships. It doesn't mean anything to the people.

"We want a transition that is going to work on a new constitution, demilitarise the institutions of Zanu-PF, reform them, and then have elections."

Mugabe spokesman clashes with the media

African leaders have faced growing pressure to take a stand against Zimbabwe's president.

Departing from the normal polite protocols of African summits, Botswana's vice-president said that Friday's run-off vote was so flawed by violence it could not be considered legitimate.

Mompati Merfahe said Zimbabwe should be excluded from African Union and regional talks.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga also urged the AU to suspend Mr Mugabe until he allowed free and fair elections.

In the end, the summit settled for a resolution that will not satisfy Zimbabwe's international critics but is as strong as African leaders felt they could live with, says the BBC's Martin Plaut in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Farmers beaten

The US has outlined a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe, and Italy has recalled its ambassador to the country for consultations.

Ben Freeth describes the attack

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the new chair of the EU's rotating presidency, said the EU "will not accept a government other than one led by Mr Tsvangirai".

But Mr Mbeki objected to the declaration

"The result that comes out of that process of dialogue must be a result that is agreed by the Zimbabweans," he told South African radio.

"And certainly, the African continent has not made any prescriptions about the outcomes of what Zimbabweans must negotiate among themselves."

In Zimbabwe, meanwhile, an elderly farmer, his wife and their son-in-law were found alive but badly beaten.

Mike Campbell, 75, his wife Angela, 66, and Ben Freeth had been kidnapped at gunpoint from their Harare farm by a mob on Sunday.

Mrs Campbell said supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party had attacked her with sticks, just as Mr Mugabe was being inaugurated as president.

A friend of the family said the Campbells had been forced to sign a document withdrawing an appeal against the seizure of their farm.

Mr Tsvangirai defeated Mr Mugabe in the presidential vote on 29 March, but failed to win an absolute majority.

He reluctantly agreed to participate in the 27 June run-off, but withdrew, blaming violence which he said had killed nearly 90 of his followers.

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