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Senegalese President to Play Role in Zimbabwe Accord, Analyst Says

A Senegalese political analyst says President Abdoulaye Wade is likely to play an important role in moving Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe towards compromise. Brent Latham reports from our West Africa bureau in Dakar, following opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai's visit.

Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade will be a key figure in reaching an accord in the ongoing talks to end the political crisis in Zimbabwe, an analyst has said.

Speaking after Morgan Tsvangirai's brief visit to Dakar on Thursday, Senegalese political analyst Babacar Gueye said Tsvangirai is trying to leverage Mr. Wade's close ties to long time Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Gueye says Wade can use his influence as an elder statesman in Africa to help move Mugabe towards compromise. He says Mr. Wade realizes the crisis is not just about Zimbabwe, but that it concerns all Africans, and African heads of state.

Tsvangirai is very familiar with Mr. Wade's close ties to Mr. Mugabe, Gueye says. He says by coming to Dakar, Tsvangirai hopes to have convinced Mr. Wade to intervene on behalf of other African leaders.

Gueye says intervention by other African heads of state, including the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki, is far more likely than international sanctions to persuade Mr. Mugabe.

Gueye stressed Mr. Wade's intervention is meant to complement and not replace Mr. Mbeki's mediation efforts.

He says Mr. Wade is an imaginative negotiator, citing the president's record of mediation in the dispute between Sudan and Chad. Last month, Mr. Wade was credited with convincing Sudan President Omar al-Bashir to restore diplomatic ties with neighboring Chad.

In June, Mr. Wade was among the first African leaders to say the environment in Zimbabwe before the runoff between Mr. Mugabe and Tsvangirai was not suitable for free and fair elections. Following Tsvangirai's withdrawal and Mr. Mugabe's unopposed victory, Mr. Wade and other African leaders were relatively muted in their criticism of Mr. Mugabe, compared to Western nations.