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Mugabe Rejects United Nations Mediation of Crisis


President Robert Mugabe has made it clear that he will not accept U.N. mediation in Zimbabwe, rejecting a suggestion by South African president Thabo Mbeki that a deal with the United Nations was in the works that would include international aid in exchange for President Mugabe agreeing to retire.

The state controlled Herald newspaper carried a clear message Thursday that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is no longer welcome in Zimbabwe. It said an invitation issued to him last year has been withdrawn.

Zimbabwe invited Mr. Annan to visit last year, following a U.N. report that condemned President Mugabe's government's slum destruction campaign, calling it a "disastrous venture". The U.N. report said 700,000 people had been made homeless, and more than two million people had been affected by the demolitions.

Government officials justified the campaign, saying it was needed to drive out illegal squatters and criminals.

On Thursday, The Herald carried a statement by government spokesman George Charamba, revoking the invitation for Mr. Annan to visit Zimbabwe.

Charamba said the situation in Zimbabwe is not a U.N. issue.

John Makumbe, senior political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, said Thursday Mr. Mugabe's rejection of any U.N. initiative by Mr. Annan should have been expected.

Makumbe said President Mugabe is in no mood to negotiate, although he said the economic crisis and inflation of more than 1,000 percent is causing major discomfort in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

He also said the financial crisis is so severe at present that Mr. Mugabe might have to accept some kind of U.N. mediation. He said a priority for Mr. Mugabe would be a deal that ensured he was safe from any future prosecution for human rights violations.

U.N. officials say Mr. Annan is exploring ways of resolving Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis. But say they don't expect Mr. Mugabe's retirement anytime soon.

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