Monday, June 30, 2008


African Union (AU) leaders have begun a summit in Egypt that looks set to be overshadowed by the crisis in Zimbabwe.
President Robert Mugabe entered the hall in Sharm el-Sheikh with the Egyptian and Tanzanian leaders.
Mr Mugabe, 84, was sworn in on Sunday after his election victory but observers said pre-poll violence had undermined the vote's credibility.
There have been calls for the AU not to recognise Mr Mugabe, but it may urge talks with the opposition instead.
Mr Mugabe claimed a landslide victory as the sole candidate after the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, withdrew.
Draft resolution
The two-day AU meeting was declared open by the current chairman, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who introduced host President Hosni Mubarak for the first speech.
It will be none of this summit's business to choose the titles for leaders
Bernard Membe,Tanzanian Foreign Minister

After other opening speeches, the 53-nation bloc will begin closed-door talks, with Zimbabwe expected to be high on the agenda.
The AU has a rule not to accept leaders who have not been democratically elected - but observers say it is unlikely to take such strong action against Mr Mugabe so quickly.
"It will be none of this summit's business to choose the titles for leaders, it is the business of this summit to see what we are going to do for the suffering people and masses in Africa," Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said at a media briefing, when asked if he would address Mr Mugabe as president.
A draft resolution written by African foreign ministers during talks ahead of the summit did not criticise the elections or Mr Mugabe, but condemned violence in general terms and called for dialogue.
Independent observers have criticised the poll.
The head of a 400-person observer mission from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), Angolan Sports Minister Jose Marcos Barrica, was quoted as saying: "The pre-election phase was characterised by politically-motivated violence, intimidation and displacements."
Another observer team, from the Pan-African Parliament, has called for fresh elections to be held, saying the vote was not free or fair.
African leaders are expected to urge Mr Mugabe to enter into talks with Mr Tsvangirai, and engage in some sort of power-sharing agreement.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, the regionally-appointed mediator for Zimbabwe, has called for a negotiated solution.
On Monday, the MDC called for an additional mediator to be appointed to work alongside Mr Mbeki.
On the eve of the summit, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa was rushed to hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh suffering chest pains.
Mr Mwanawasa, who is said to be in a stable condition, has taken a tough line against Mr Mugabe's regime, calling the election undemocratic.
Mr Mugabe was sworn in during a quickly convened ceremony on Sunday, about an hour after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced the results of the presidential election run-off.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from Zimbabwe's election
The commission said Mr Mugabe won 85.5% of the vote, but many ballots were spoiled.
In a speech that followed the swearing-in ceremony, Mr Mugabe said he was committed to talks with the opposition to find a solution to the political crisis.
However, BBC Southern Africa correspondent Peter Biles says the opposition may reject any notion of a government of national unity in which Mr Mugabe is still in a key position.
The MDC said some 86 of its supporters were killed and 200,000 forced from their homes by militias loyal to the ruling Zanu-PF party in the weeks preceding the run-off.
The government has blamed the MDC for the violence.
Mr Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980.



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