Mugabe ready to talk with all sides

HARARE - Robert Mugabe's regime said yesterday it was ready for talks with all sides in order to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis as it hailed a resolution by African leaders calling for a unity government.

HARARE - Robert Mugabe's regime said yesterday it was ready for talks with all sides in order to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis as it hailed a resolution by African leaders calling for a unity government.

As the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) met to discuss its response to the resolution from a two-day African Union summit in Egypt, the information minister said it was an echo of Mugabe's own call for dialogue.

Meanwhile, South African President Thabo Mbeki, the chief mediator between Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the opposition, warned against trying to impose a solution from the outside after new EU president France said it would only deal with an administration headed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Following Mugabe's re-election after a one-man poll last Friday which was boycotted by Tsvangirai, the AU summit in Sharm el-Sheikh was dominated by the Zimbabwe crisis.

While neighbouring Botswana called for Zimbabwe to be suspended from both the AU and 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), the summit ultimately ended with a relatively bland call for Mugabe and Tsvangirai "to initiate dialogue with a view to promoting peace (and) stability". The gathering decided "to support the call for the creation of a government of national unity, to support the SADC facilitation" led by Mbeki.

Zimbabwe's Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said: "Government is ready for dialogue with whoever, a dialogue for national unity in Zimbabwe."

In his inauguration speech Mugabe said it was time for Zimbabweans to bury their political differences and try to work around unity. Tsvangirai has also spoken of his desire to talk to Mugabe and a possibility of him remaining as a ceremonial head of state under a rewritten constitution.

Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade told the French radio RFI that Mbeki had proposed in the closed-door talks that Mugabe share power with Tsvangirai.

"But Mugabe is not of this state of mind. He told me this is not possible, that he has his supporters. I reminded him this party (MDC) is a real force if a prime minister had to be chosen by his level of representation, it could only be Tsvangirai," Wade said.

"The result that comes out of that process of dialogue must be a result that is agreed by the Zimbabweans," Mbeki had said. - Sapa-AFP

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