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African Union Offers Constructive Advice In "Watered-Down" Statement

Though this week's African Union summit offered constructive advice to Zimbabwe urging the establishment of a government of national unity to resolve the crisis, observers say that the gathered heads of state side-stepped the main question as to the legitimacy of the country's June 27 run-off vote and thus of the government of President Robert Mugabe.

While recommending a Kenyan-style power-sharing arrangement, the summit resolution did not take a position on the run-off election boycotted by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over escalating and increasingly deadly violence against his supporters. Though it did not endorse the results, it also assigned no blame for that wave of political violence.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told reporters the resolution was adopted by consensus during a closed door meeting.

The resolution encouraged the Southern African Development Community to continue its own mediation efforts. But the statement was far milder than what some countries hoped for.

Diplomats who were inside the closed summit session drafting the resolution said the leaders of Botswana, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone said the vote lacked legitimacy, and Botswana urged that Zimbabwe and Mr. Mugabe be barred from A.U. and SADC membership.

Senegal and Uganda also favored stronger action against Mr. Mugabe than the relatively neutral position adopted in the resolution.

For perspective, reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with political analyst Farai Maguwu, who said the “watered down” statement by African leaders indicated most of them are not committed to resolving Zimbabwe’s crisis

Elsewhere, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose-Migiro, A.U. Chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping launched the Millennium Development Goals in Africa Report to inform Group of Eight leaders meeting next week how the West can help Africa deal with rising food and energy costs and global warming.

U.N. Development Program Senior Advisor Brett House, a micro-economist, said trouble spots like Zimbabwe and Darfur can slow progress toward Millennium goals.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...