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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Expected to Demand Lifting of Sanctions in UN Address

  • Ntungamili Nkomo
  • Jonga Kandemiiri

President Robert Mugabe was in New York on Monday to attend the United Nations General Assembly where he was scheduled to speak on Friday in an address analysts said is very likely to reiterate his demand that Western targeted sanctions or restrictions be lifted.

Mr. Mugabe flew into New York on Sunday with his wife Grace and several other senior government officials from his ZANU-PF party including Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi. The U.S travel ban on Mr. Mugabe doesn’t apply to U.N events.

Cape Town-based political analyst Glen Mpani told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that he expects Mr. Mugabe to ramp up his rhetoric against the United States and Britain despite, in the former case, a new leadership, and again demand that the West lift its sanctions.

In another development, the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said it would agree to elections in 2011 if only there is a new constitution in place, an independent electoral commission and if the rule of law is re-established.

The MDC was reacting to Mr. Mugabe’s call for ZANU-PF to be ready for elections in 2011.

Mr. Mugabe told his party’s women’s league late last week that elections should be held within 24 months of when a new constitution is in place - which could happen by late 2010.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his party will only start campaigning after the new constitution is approved.

Political analyst John Makumbe said that if the draft constitution is rejected by the people in an eventual referendum, ZANU-PF could then pull out of the unity government and demand elections on the basis of the existing constitution.

Meanwhile, correspondent Arthur Chigorowa reported from Karoi, Mashonaland West, that Finance Minister Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Tsvangirai MDC formation, told a rally on Sunday that the party would need a "Plan B" if it pulled out of the unity government as Mr. Tsvangirai has tacitly threatened to do in opening consultations on power-sharing.

Reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...