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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.

The summit followed Mugabe’s controversial re-election in a run-off poll in which he was the sole candidate. Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the first round but pulled out of the run-off amid violence and intimidation directed at the MDC and blamed on Mugabe’s camp. The AU resolution expressed concern about the violence.

The AU resolution clearly calls for a Government of National Unity (GNU) as opposed to demands by the MDC and Western governments for a Transitional Government. Political analyst Cheryl Hendricks of Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies makes a strong case for transitional government in Zimbabwe given the highly polarised situation in the country.

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