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Mugabe, Opposition to Attend Emergency Summit

BY Admin  April 10, 2008 at 4:00 PM EDT

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai

The meeting is set to address the disputed results of last month’s presidential election, which Tsvangirai claims to have won. On Thursday, the opposition party hardened its stance against Mugabe, and rejected the possibility of a run-off vote.

Tsvangirai told Time magazine on Thursday that Mugabe, who has been in power for nearly 30 years, would be ousted with the help of other African nations.

“We’ll manage to get Mugabe out. Mugabe is being deserted. No one wants to touch Mugabe in the region now. Eventually, we will ease him out,” Tsvangirai told the magazine.

The results of last month’s election have not been officially released, but there has been talk of a second round of voting to choose between the two candidates.

Leaders of Tsvangirai’s opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, decided Thursday not to participate in a run-off vote. The party claims that Mugabe is delaying the release of the election results to orchestrate a situation where he could emerge the winner of a second vote.

“Morgan Tsvangirai won this election without the need for a runoff, and we will not accept any other result except one that confirms that we won this election,” MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told the Associated Press.

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said ruling party tallies of the result of the March 29 vote showed a run-off would be necessary.

“None of the candidates has been able to secure polling required by our law in order to avoid a runoff,” he said.

The weekend summit was called by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa to discuss the crisis, but Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the AP it was not necessary.

“There is no crisis in Zimbabwe that warrants a special meeting on Zimbabwe,” Ndlovu said.

However, the Southern African Development Community, which includes 14 nations in the region, later confirmed Mugabe’s attendance at the meeting, according media reports.

A spokesperson for Tsvangirai’s party, said he will also be in attendance.

Tsvangirai has been touring the region urging leaders to intensify pressure on Mugabe. He was reportedly in South Africa on Thursday to meet with President Thabo Mbeki to discuss the opposition’s case.

But a statement by South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad on Thursday rejected any speculation that the country would ask Mugabe to step aside.

“We are not a government who can ask other presidents to step down,” Pahad told journalists, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Nobody will tell us when our president will step down and we will never ever allow a situation that we ask other presidents to step down. On what basis would we do that? Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa.”

However, Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, and the likely successor to Mbeki — who has been criticized in the past for not speaking out against Mugabe — did call for the vote results to be released.

“I think the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should have announced results by now,” Zuma told the Star, a Johannesburg-based newspaper.