Pressure mounting on Mugabe and Brown

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal said he would push to create a group of African leaders to resolve a stand-off between Zimbabwe and Britain which has cast a shadow over next month's EU-Africa summit, a report from Reuters claims.

Wade, who has been critical of South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki’s efforts to mediate between Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu-PF and the opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), arrived in Harare after British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown confirmed that he would boycott the December 8-9 summit because President Robert Mugabe would attend.

“I am going to propose the creation of a committee of five heads of state, which will include (South African leader) Thabo Mbeki of course, to try to resolve relations between England and Zimbabwe,” said Wade.

“I am a facilitator…Nobody has sent me here. It is a personal initiative. I know that Thabo Mbeki has done a lot but the situation has not so far been resolved,” Wade added, who has on occasions, sparred with Mbeki for leadership on continental issues.

Mbeki, meanwhile, said after meeting Zimbabwe’s political parties last week in Harare, that he was “very confident” that mediation efforts would produce the desired results for the country to stage a general election next year.

Western diplomats and South Africa’s opposition have repeatedly criticised Mbeki for being too on Mugabe. Mbeki claims quiet diplomacy has the best chance of ending Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

Mugabe himself has clashed with Britain and other western governments over charges of human rights abuses and the controversial seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution among blacks.

At the CHOGM meeting in Uganda this week, Wade is reported to have advised Brown against boycotting the summit. 

“I think Britain should be present in Lisbon. If they don’t come, Britain will be isolated on that question. I will speak to Gordon Brown and ask him to be present at the summit,” he told reporters before going into a meeting with Mugabe.

“Africa must show its solidarity with Zimbabwe,” Wade said, adding that he would try to hold talks with the opposition, which accuses Mugabe of rigging previous elections to hold onto power. 

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