No date yet for Zimbabwe summit

2013-06-07 15:01

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Pretoria - A new date has not been set for a regional summit to assess Zimbabwe's readiness for general elections, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Friday.

Regional mediators are consulting to set a date for the summit, after one scheduled for Sunday was abruptly called off on Thursday, she told reporters in Pretoria.

"The date for such an extra-ordinary summit always gets decided upon by the availability and programmes of heads of state, creating space for this meeting. It’s not an ordinary, scheduled meeting."

Southern African Development Community leaders were speaking to Zimbabwe about a date.

President Jacob Zuma - facilitator in the Zimbabwean impasse - and other regional leaders would attend.

Media reports on Friday stated that Sunday’s meeting was called off because Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, 89, informed SADC he would not be available for the summit.

The summit was expected to discuss a range of issues, including the cash-strapped Zimbabwean government's efforts to raise a US132m election budget.

Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court ruled last Friday that Mugabe should organise elections no later than July 31.

The polls aim to end an uneasy SADC-brokered unity government between Mugabe and his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, which was formed in 2009 after deadly disputed elections.

Central African Republic

Turning to reports that deposed Central African Republic president Francois Bozize was in South Africa, Nkoana-Mashabane said the ousted leader only submitted a request for refuge.

"When he left his country and ended up in Cameroon, the first place he wanted to come to was South Africa. However, there were offers on the sidelines of an ECCAS summit that central African leaders thought it best for him to be accommodated where he is," said the minister.

"The other country which made an immediate offer for him was Benin. We are not in the business of jostling for who takes over former presidents. There were many offers for him." 

Bozize, 66, fled the CAR in the wake of a military coup on March 24, after thousands of fighters from the Seleka rebel coalition launched an onslaught on the capital Bangui, accusing him of breaking an earlier peace agreement.

Thirteen South African soldiers were killed and 27 injured in the take-over bid.

The CAR issued an international arrest warrant for Bozize on charges, including 22 murders and 119 "summary executions", as well as numerous abductions and the destruction of nearly 4000 homes.

Nkoana-Mashabane said she would not speculate on whether South Africa would arrest Bozize if he set foot in the country.

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