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South Africa Hosts Summit on Zimbabwe, EU Tightens Sanctions


Southern African leaders have gathered in Pretoria for another summit aimed at ending the political standoff between Zimbabwe's ruling party and opposition.

The leaders are expected to pressure President Robert Mugabe and opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai to form a unity government as they agreed to in September.

Talks on implementing the deal have dragged on for months while Zimbabwe struggles with record-setting inflation and a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2,700 people.

Ahead of Monday's talks, Zimbabwean Information Minister Bright Matonga said this summit will be the last to discuss an inclusive government. He said Mr. Mugabe will form a new government "with or without" the opposition.

In Brussels, the European Union extended travel and financial sanctions to another 26 officials and 36 companies associated with Mr. Mugabe.

In a statement, EU foreign ministers condemned the Mugabe government for failing to address the most basic economic and social needs of its people.

President Mugabe agreed to share power with opposition leader Tsvangirai and the head of a smaller opposition faction, Arthur Mutambara, in September. But the sides have been unable to agree on how to allocate important cabinet posts.

Tsvangirai is also demanding that Mr. Mugabe free opposition activists being held in jail on what the opposition calls trumped-up charges.

While the standoff continues, Zimbabwe continues to suffer from growing food shortages, a worthless currency, and an inflation rate that was last measured at 231-million percent. Government health services have broken down, enabling the cholera epidemic to spread and infect more than 40,000 people.

Tsvangirai beat Mr. Mugabe in a March 2008 presidential election. But official results showed neither candidate winning enough votes to avoid a runoff. Mr. Mugabe won the second round after Tsvangirai dropped out, citing killings and beatings of his supporters.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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