Zimbabwean human rights activists working on the sidelines of an African Union summit set to open Thursday have submitted a petition urging the African leadership to prevail upon President Robert Mugabe to implement broad political reforms before pressing forward with the elections he has called for March 29.

The activists want the AU to complement efforts by the Southern African Development Community to bring about a resolution of Zimbabwe's longrunning political crisis.

Opposition officials said Mr. Mugabe?s setting of the election date late last week dealt a blow to the so-called SADC process launched by the regional organization in March 2007 following an upsurge of political violence in Zimbabwe. Opposition officials noted there has been no final accord in the talks, let alone implementation of terms.

Free Zimbabwe Youth Coordinator Aluis Mbawaro told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his group hope the AU will convince Mr. Mugabe to postpone the elections and embrace reforms agreed by both parties in the talks.

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