AU DITHERS OVER ZIM

EGYPT - An African Union summit yesterday tried to overcome divisions on how to deal with the re-election of President Robert Mugabe in a poll condemned around the world.

EGYPT - An African Union summit yesterday tried to overcome divisions on how to deal with the re-election of President Robert Mugabe in a poll condemned around the world.

Summit sources said the leaders were divided between those who wanted a strong statement about Zimbabwe and others who were reluctant to publicly censure the veteran leader, who extended his 28-year rule in a one-candidate election last Friday.

Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma told BBC: "The people of Zimbabwe have been denied their democratic rights. We should, in no uncertain terms, condemn what has happened."

Koroma said the SADC should engage Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in talks leading to a transitional government and fresh elections.

But Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, rejected the idea of a Kenya-style power-sharing solution floated by several summit leaders.

"We have our own history of evolving dialogue and resolving political impasses the Zimbabwean way," Charamba said.

Tsvangirai's MDC has dismissed press reports that President Thabo Mbeki was close to brokering a deal for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to negotiate a unity government.

"It's speculation," said spokesman Nelson Chamisa. - Reuters

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