Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 10:38 UK

Mugabe 'welcomes' unity dialogue

Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe has faced criticism by some African leaders

A spokesman for Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has welcomed a call by African Union leaders for Zimbabwe to form a unity government.

"Government is ready for dialogue with whoever," Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told AFP news agency.

The European Union said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who boycotted a presidential run-off, should lead it.

But regional mediator Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's leader, said solutions could not be imposed from outside.

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

Mugabe is going for national dialogue... not national unity concocted by the West
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
Information Minister

The BBC's southern African correspondent Peter Biles says the difficulty is that the governing Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) hold very different views about a possible power-sharing arrangement.

Meanwhile, the international pressure on Zimbabwe that followed last week's election is continuing.

The International Cricket Council is due to discuss whether to exclude Zimbabwe from international competitions, while a German firm that supplies of paper for banknotes has stopped deliveries to the country.

Zimbabwe constantly needs to print new notes to keep up with hyperinflation.

Mr Tsvangirai withdrew from last week's run-off citing widespread state-sponsored violence.


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

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare, 27 June 2008
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
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai

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

Mr Ndlovu said Mr Mugabe had already called for dialogue before the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting.

"It is only endorsing what the president said, that he is going for national dialogue and is open to anyone who is willing to talk, not national unity concocted by the West," he said.

After the meeting, 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".

Mr Tsvangirai, who won the first round of presidential elections in March, 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."

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.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific