Zuma meets Zim leaders amid calls for new polls

2010-03-17 13:32

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma today began talks with Zimbabwean President

Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, amid growing pressure for

the country to move toward new elections.

“The principals are meeting this morning,” Patrick Chinamasa, the

chief negotiator for Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party said.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a unity government in February last

year under stiff international pressure, aiming to end an economic freefall and

curb deadly political violence after disputed presidential elections in


They have deadlocked over a slate of key appointments, including

the central bank governor and the attorney-general, while Tsvangirai complains

that his supporters remain the target of official persecution.

But pressure has been growing for the parties to shelve their

differences and focus on drafting a new constitution, which is meant to pave the

way toward fresh elections.

Under the power-sharing deal, Zimbabwe was meant to draft a new

charter and put it to a referendum by this November, paving the way to new

elections by next February.

Both sides have already begun positioning themselves for the polls,

with 86-year-old Mugabe – in power since independence from Britain in 1980 –

saying that he is prepared to run again.

Tsvangirai has called for international peacekeepers to supervise

the polls to prevent a return of the bloodshed that marred the 2008 presidential


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