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Zimbabwe Ruling Party to Resume Talks with Opposition


Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party has canceled negotiations with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), mediated by Nigeria and South Africa. But the MDC has been told by South African and Nigerian diplomats that the dialogue will resume Monday, as planned.

Zanu-PF said last week it was postponing talks with the MDC until the outcome of the opposition's challenge to the High Court, alleging widescale vote-rigging in the presidential elections.

Based on previous cases, legal observers say, the court challenge to President Robert Mugabe's disputed election win could take at least two years to be concluded.

Zanu-PF's leadership met with the high commissioners of South Africa and Nigeria for three hours late Friday, and the talks are now on again, according to well-placed political sources.

However, the government-controlled Sunday Mail said the two mediators, Nigerian diplomat Adebayo Adedji and South Africa's top executive from the ruling African National Congress, Kgalema Motlanthe, will be in Harare on schedule. It said that although there would be no negotiations, the two men would, as African brothers, be welcome in Zimbabwe.

Political observers believe that Zanu-PF hoped it could cancel the talks, and this would be accepted by Africa.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, who have shielded Mr. Mugabe from further international isolation, are reliably understood to have refused to accept Zanu-PF's reasons for canceling the talks.

Next month, both presidents will attend a G-8 summit in Canada, where they are looking for support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD. A solution, or at least progress toward solving bankrupt Zimbabwe's political crisis, is seen as a crucial first test for NEPAD.

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