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Zambia's Mwanawasa Threatens Summit Boycott If Mugabe Excluded


Fueling an international row over whether President Robert Mugabe should be invited to a European-African summit set for December in Portugal, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has said he will boycott the summit if Mr. Mugabe is not invited.

His threat followed a statement by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying that he would boycott the summit if Mr. Mugabe were in attendance. Mr. Mwanawasa, who is currently chairman of the Southern African Development Community, said he did not know how many African leaders would take part if Mr. Mugabe was excluded.

Zambian Information Minister Mike Mulongoti told VOA reporter Peter Clottey that his president wanted to ensure dialogue continued. He said if Mr. Mugabe were barred, "it would be pointless for President Mwanawasa and others to go there because then there is no need if people are not willing to dialogue with others."

An EU-AU summit planned in 2003 had to be postponed indefinitely when African leaders threatened a boycott over the European decision to bar Mr. Mugabe from participating over alleged human rights violations by Harare.

Political analyst Glen Mpani told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mwanawasa's stance reflects the position the rest of Africa is likely to take under the banner of pan-Africanism if Mr. Mugabe is shunned.

Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United Nations Boniface Chidyausiku meanwhile said in an interview with the BBC that Mr. Brown was attempting to undermine Zimbabwe with other countries in threatening to boycott a summit including Mr. Mugabe.

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