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Europe, Rights Advocates Boost Pressure On Harare Ahead Of SADC Summit

The European Union is stepping up pressure on the government of Zimbabwe in the run-up to a summit of Southern African Development Community on Monday that could determine the future of power-sharing as a palliative for the country's bitter political stalemate.

The SADC summit was called after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed to agree terms for a national unity government despite the best efforts of SADC Chairman and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who attempted to broker a deal backed by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.

As Southern African leaders gather in Pretoria, South Africa, EU foreign ministers will gather in Brussels on Monday and are expected according to Reuters to heap additional sanctions on Zimbabwean officials alleged to have committed human rights abuses.

The EU ministers are also expected to urge closer scrutiny of the flow of diamonds coming from Zimbabwe and said to be a main source of funding for the embattled government of President Mugabe now that the Zimbabwe dollar is worthless and most former sources of hard currency such as the country's gold mines have been idled.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch urged the African Union to apply concerted political pressure on the Mugabe government to change its ways, saying the AU should suspend Zimbabwe from membership if it does not meet rights and governance standards.

Human Rights Zimbabwe researcher Tiseke Kasambala told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the African Union must be firm with Mr. Mugabe.

President Mugabe has said he has made all the concessions he is willing to make in terms of sharing power with Tsvangirai, founder of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the man who bested Mr. Mugabe in the first round of March presidential balloting, leading to months of violence capped by a June runoff that Mr. Mugabe won uncontested.

Tsvangirai, prime minister-designate in the government of national unity that has so far failed to materialize on the basis of a September power-sharing accord, has said he will not join a unity government without an equitable share of ministers and other senior posts, and until the Mugabe government stops abducting and persecuting opposition members.

For a broader look at the stalemate and the way forward, reporter Zulu turned to political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya, now pursuing studies in human rights law at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, and London-based analyst Musekiwa Makwanya, who said Tsvangirai would be better advised to join a government and fight from within.

But Ruhanya said trying to fighting from within would be a huge mistake as even those in the ruling ZANU-PF party who have opposed Mr. Mugabe have been dealt with ruthlessly.

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