Mbeki set for key Zimbabwe talks

mbeki_2.jpgSouth African President Thabo Mbeki is set to meet
African Union chief Jean Ping in the latest bid to resolve Zimbabwe’s
political crisis.

The pair are expected to discuss ways of brokering a
power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe and opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Tsvangirai is reportedly waiting to see what the talks yield before agreeing to deal with Mr Mugabe.

Zimbabwe’s leaders are under increasing pressure to reach an agreement.

A memorandum of understanding setting out the
conditions for talks on a possible power-sharing agreement was expected
to be signed this week.

But Mr Tsvangirai has not yet signed it.

His party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has set
several conditions for talks, including the end of government-backed
violence it says has killed 120 of its supporters.

It also wants Mr Tsvangirai’s victory in the first round of the presidential vote on 29 March to be officially accepted.

MDC spokesman Nqobizita Mlilo said the party’s demands had not yet been met.

"We want to see the outcome of the meeting between Mr Ping and
President Mbeki… and then we will take it from there," he said on
Thursday.

Mr Mbeki was appointed by regional grouping the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) to mediate in Zimbabwe’s political
and economic crisis last year.

But critics say his discreet diplomatic approach has favoured Mr Mugabe.

It is thought his talks with Mr Ping in Pretoria could result in
an African Union envoy being appointed to assist in the mediation
efforts.