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1975: Rhodesia peace talks fail

Talks between the Rhodesian Government and the African National Council (ANC) have collapsed acrimoniously.

Negotiations to bring about a cease fire in the civil war broke up after Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith refused to grant immunity to African nationalist leaders attending the talks.

"It would involve people who are well-known terrorist leaders who bear responsibility for the murders and other atrocities which have been perpetrated in this country," Mr Smith said.

The ANC leader, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, said any hope of achieving a settlement depended on Mr Smith being prepared to compromise.

"If Mr Smith cannot go with us on very small things like this (diplomatic immunity), we think he cannot be serious," Bishop Muzorewa said.

No compromise

The talks were held in a railway carriage on the Victoria Falls Bridge midway between Rhodesia and Zambia.

The presidents of South Africa and Zambia, the principal allies of Rhodesia and the ANC respectively, acted as mediators at the talks.

But after nine-and-a-half hours of discussions they were unable to find a compromise to save the negotiations.

Mr Smith is now expected to employ tough new military measures against the guerrillas.

The guerrillas, mainly members of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), are said to have been training several thousand men in Zambia and Mozambique.

Mr Smith will also try to win support among "moderate" African leaders for a phased transition to black rule.

In Context
In 1976 Ian Smith accepted a US plan to introduce black majority rule to the country within two years.

However, civil war continued until all-party talks in London in 1979 resulted in a peace agreement.

In 1980 Robert Mugabe and his Zanu party were elected to lead the country which was re-named Zimbabwe and internationally-recognised on 18 April 1980.

The year 2000 saw the start of a violent campaign supported by President Mugabe to seize white-owned farms and hand them over to black farmers.

In 2002 the European Union imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe and it was suspended from the Commonwealth.


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