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Extraordinary SADC Summit on Zimbabwe, Congo, Opens in Tanzania

Southern African Development Community heads of state gathered Wednesday in the Tanzanian capital of Dar-es-Salaam for an extraordinary summit at which Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crisis was to be discussed along with the recent political bloodshed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

SADC’s Communications chief, Charles Mubita, said the summit opened today with a meeting of the ministers who sit on SADC’s Organ for Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation, with heads of state meeting Thursday to discuss the crises with input from member states preparatory to setting a strategy or issuing a resolution.

Summit host President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania is chairman of the panel. He was in Harare recently for discussions with President Robert Mugabe.

SADC Regional Cooperation Director Herbert Mrango told VOA the summit was meant to give the heads of state an opportunity "to discuss issues of political cooperation in the region." He would not elaborate on what the 14 leaders would discuss.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a nongovernmental organization, organized a news conference Wednesday at which the Zimbabwean civil society organization urged the regional leaders to adopt a tougher stance on Zimbabwe and to hold Mr. Mugabe more accountable on human rights and democratic reform in his country.

Crisis Coalition Coordinator Nicholas Mkaronda told Carole that his organization went to Dar-es-Salaam to provide a balanced account of the Zimbabwe situation.

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