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Iran and Zimbabwe: birds of feathers?

ZIMBABWE-IRAN/Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe backs Iran’s controversial nuclear programme and has accused the West of seeking to punish the two countries for asserting their independence.

“Be also assured, comrade president, of Zimbabwe’s continuous support of Iran’s just cause on the nuclear issue,” Mugabe told Ahmadinejad at a banquet he hosted for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Harare on Thursday for a two-day visit..

Iran faces a possible new round of United Nations sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Zimbabwe itself escaped U.N sanctions in 2008 after Mugabe’s re-election in a second round poll marred by political violence, which forced his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out despite outpolling Mugabe in the first round voting.

The Iranian president’s visit has widened rifts within the coalition government, with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party describing Mugabe’s decision to invite Ahmadinejad as a “collosal political scandal”.

Is Zimbabwe’s Gono going?

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The acknowledgement by Zimbabwe’s central bank governor that it raided the private bank accounts of companies and donors to fund President Robert Mugabe’s government during the economic crisis has increased speculation over his fate under the new national unity government.

Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono said the central bank took foreign currency from private accounts to help pay for some $2 billion in loans to state-owned companies and utilities and for power and grain imports. He said the government still had to repay about $1.2 billion, so the bank could repay the money it owes.

Sign of change in Zimbabwe?

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President Robert Mugabe joined the mourning for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife on Tuesday and called on Zimbabweans to end violence and support his old rival to help rebuild the country.

The death of Susan Tsvangirai in a road crash in which her husband was also injured has, at least on the surface, brought about a show of unity between Zimbabwe’s bitterest foes that might never have looked possible.

from Global News Journal:

Crunch time for Zimbabwe

Southern African leaders have decided at a summit that Zimbabwe should form a unity government next month but the opposition said it was disappointed with the outcome, raising doubts over chances for ending the crisis.

The 15-nation SADC grouping said after the meeting in South Africa - its fifth attempt to secure a deal on forming a unity government - it had agreed that opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be sworn in as prime minister by Feb. 11.

from Global News Journal:

Zimbabwe sinking fast

From a distance it is always hard to picture just how hard life is in Zimbabwe and to imagine how much worse it can get. For so long we have been writing about economic collapse, inflation statistics beyond comprehension, the fact that at least a quarter of the country has fled to seek work abroad and that life expectancy has tumbled.

Commentators have long spoken of the dangers of a possible ‘meltdown’. The signs of what that might look like have grown stronger this week.

How quickly can Zimbabweans expect economic change?

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zimbabwe_talks_handshake.jpgFor Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people, the true meaning of the signing of a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC would be how quickly it leads to an improvement in their daily lives. An economic crisis that began in 1998 has turned the once prosperous Southern African country into a basket case economy with the world’s highest inflation at over 11 million percent. Millions of Zimbabwean’s who have fled across the borders to escape unemployment and severe shortages are waiting to see if the political deal will result in economic rebound paving the way for their return.

The agreement negotiated by South African President Thabo Mbeki provides for the sharing of power between veteran President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Tsvangirai takes on the new role of Prime Minister with extensive powers, with Mugabe’s 28-year hold on power significantly eroded.

Are talks going Mugabe’s way?

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Mugabe at rally in HarareIs it just me, or is Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe starting to look more confident again? At the start of power sharing talks a few weeks back he appeared distinctly grim when he and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had their historic handshake.

Mugabe shakes hands with Tsvangirai

In the past few days he has been much more his old self, lambasting the West at a speech to commemorate the dead in the liberation war, giving a national honour to George Chiweshe, who organised elections that were condemned by much of the world, and generally upbeat during three days of talks that in the end delivered no result.

What chance of success for Zimbabwe talks?

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rtr20ed8.jpgZimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC are holding talks in Pretoria aimed at thrashing out a power-sharing deal to end the country’s political crisis.

President Robert Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a smaller MDC faction signed a framework for the talks in South Africa on Monday — a deal that South African leader Thabo Mbeki said committed Zimbabwe’s political rivals to an intense timetable.

Is Zimbabwe back to square one after AU summit?

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zimbabwe_summit_mugabe1.jpgCan President Robert Mugabe be trusted to implement the resolution of the African Union summit calling for dialogue and a government of national unity to end Zimbabwe’s long-running crisis? According to Mugabe’s camp, he can. “The AU resolution is in conformity to what President Mugabe said at his inauguration, when he said we are prepared to talk in order to resolve our problems,” his Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told Reuters a day after the AU passed the resolution on July 1.

While opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Demoratic Change (MDC) say they have kept the door open for negotiations, he says conditions are not yet right for talks. The MDC also makes clear its objective is a transitional arrangement leading to fresh elections rather than a unity government.  The crisis could conceivably be stuck on that difference.

Zimbabwe election rage

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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration in HararePresident Robert Mugabe’s re-election has sparked cries of outrage from Zimbabwean bloggers and demands for international intervention.

Mugabe’s victory in Friday’s one-candidate poll was condemned in the West and by all three African monitoring groups who said the vote was deeply flawed.

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