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Back From AU Summit, Mugabe Sets Terms For Power-Sharing Talks With Opposition


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, seemingly unfazed by African Union and international pressure to compromise with the opposition on power-sharing, said today that he would only negotiate with the Movement for Democratic Change if it acknowledges that he is the duly elected head of state – something the opposition has already said it will not do.

Speaking at Harare International airport upon his return from the African Union summit in Egypt earlier this week, Mr. Mugabe commended South African President Thabo Mbeki for his efforts to mediate between ZANU-PF and the MDC. The opposition party however has been highly critical of Mr. Mbeki, accusing him of a pro-Mugabe bias in that mediation.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he will only enter talks on power-sharing on the basis of the results of the first-round elections held on March 29 - and then only if the political violence which has seared the country since the March ballot stops.

But Mr. Mugabe said the opposition must recognize as valid his re-election on June 27 if any dialogue is to take place.

Responding to Mr. Mugabe's statement, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa vowed that his party would never recognize Mugabe's re-election.

Meanwhile, South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad bluntly told Zimbabwe on Friday that it must put a stop to politically motivated violence, warning that if the beating and killing continues Pretoria will have no choice but to take unspecified unilateral action.

Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

Botswana and Tanzania have said they do not recognize Mr. Mugabe as the head of the Zimbabwean state.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned his re-election as illegitimate and vowed that the European Union would seek "all possible sanctions" against his government.

But Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe must be acknowledged as president of Zimbabwe, insisting that the presidential run-off election held on June 27 was no sham.

Independent analyst Chris Maroleng said dialogue between the two parties can only take place if they waive their preconditions.

More news from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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