Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Wednesday that he is not prepared to negotiate with President Robert Mugabe and his ruling party as to a government of national unity until the political violence that has claimed scores of opposition lives is halted.
Tsvangirai added that he would not enter into such talks unless the mediation process now in the hands of South African President Thabo Mbeki were expanded. He has previously urged the African Union to appoint a full-time mediator to replace Mr. Mbeki, though the A.U. in its summit earlier this week reconfirmed Mr. Mbeki as Zimbabwe mediator.
Harare correspondent Sylvia Manika of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported that Tsvangirai instead proposed a transitional government for a limited period of time.
Under international pressure to resolve the crisis, Harare expressed readiness to open talks to establish a national unity government. Many countries, some African, have rejected the outcome of the presidential run-off ballot that nominally returned Mr. Mugabe to power on Friday, June 27, and challenged the legitimacy of his presidency and government.
Among the few to endorse Mr. Mugabe's mandate was Iran, under Western pressure over human rights issues and its alleged drive to add nuclear weapons to its arsenal.
European Union officials on Friday urged that Tsvangirai be named head of government in any government of national unity.
The United States meanwhile submitted to the United Nations a resolution to slap Mr. Mugabe and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, and 10 other senior officials, with additional financial and travel sanctions. An arms ban on Zimbabwe is also being discussed.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown blasted Mr. Mugabe's "blood-stained" government. He said he had discussed with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the need to send a U.N. envoy to Harare. Mr Brown threatened heavier sanctions if Harare does not respond.
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said Harare is willing to discuss unity.
Chief Whip Joram Gumbo of the ruling ZANU-PF party told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the idea of accommodating the opposition came from Mr. Mugabe himself.
Independent political analyst Chris Maroleng said in an interview from Pretoria, South Africa, that establishing a government of national unity would highly problematic.