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Efforts Fail to Mediate Solution to Zimbabwe's Political Crisis - 2002-05-16

Attempts by Nigeria and South Africa to mediate a solution to Zimbabwe's political crisis have collapsed, after the ruling ZANU-PF party officially said it will no talk to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Nigerian and South African mediators had tried for four days to get the ruling party to the negotiating table.

Zimbabwe's government-controlled media first indicated late last week that the talks - scheduled to start this past Monday - would not go ahead as planned.

But the two mediators came to Harare anyway, hoping they could get ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, to the negotiating table. The two mediators visited Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and the ruling party's secretary for administration, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In his letter to the mediators Thursday rejecting the talks, Mr. Mnangagwa criticized the MDC for launching a High Court challenge to the results of Zimbabwe's presidential election. He also said MDC does not recognize Mr. Mugabe as the legitimate head of state, wants a rerun of the March presidential elections, continues to hold rallies, and is fanning violence.

Mr. Mnangagwa also wrote that the MDC falsely claims its members are victims of ruling party violence.

After waiting several days for the talks to start, the MDC already had said it is no longer available for any negotiations with what it describes as a "rogue regime."

MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube said Thursday ZANU-PF's reasons for pulling out of the talks are items for negotiation, which were already on the agenda agreed between the two parties last month. He said ZANU-PF has demonstrated it is not serious about engaging in dialogue, and had unilaterally repudiated any talks.