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South Africa's President in Zimbabwe for Election Talks with Mugabe


South African President Thabo Mbeki is in Zimbabwe for talks with President Robert Mugabe ahead of next week's controversial runoff election.

Mr. Mbeki is leading regional efforts to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis, but critics say he and other African leaders have not taken a strong enough stand with Mr. Mugabe.

Some African leaders are growing impatient with the Mugabe government, however. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said this week that Zimbabwe's first presidential election in March was rigged. He urged Mr. Mugabe to step down from office, after ruling Zimbabwe since 1980.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote in a British newspaper The Financial Times Wednesday that the winner of an unfair vote will not have the legitimacy to govern Zimbabwe.

He urged the country's feuding politicians to forge an agreement that would facilitate cooperation after the June 27 runoff election.

Zimbabwe's election commission called a second round of voting after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won more votes than Mr. Mugabe in the March election, but according to official results, did not win enough for a majority.

Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has accused Mr. Mugabe's supports of carrying out a campaign of violence and intimidation ahead of the second round of voting.

The international community also has become increasingly concerned about the government's crackdown on opposition supporters and foreign aid workers.

United Nations Human Rights Chief Louise Arbour said Wednesday that Zimbabwe has expelled one of her staff members. She said the U.N. official was kicked out on Tuesday, the same day Mr. Mugabe met a special U.N. envoy (Haile Menkerios) to discuss the political crisis.

Zimbabwean state media report the government has lifted a ban on some aid groups that run food and AIDS programs in the country.

The government had imposed the ban earlier this month, accusing the groups of supporting the opposition party.

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