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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Engages African Diplomats On Power-Sharing

Zimbabwean prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai met with African diplomats in Harare on Thursday seeking support for his position in a power-sharing face-off with President Robert Mugabe ahead of a meeting called Monday by the Southern African Development Community aimed at resolving the impasse to bring a national unity government into being.

He also met with representatives of member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD.

Tsvangirai confirmed that he will attend the meeting called by SADC's political committee. His formation of the Movement for Democratic Change said earlier that it might not be involved unless he were issued the passport the government has so far failed to provide him.

He turned in his passport so pages could be added to it, but the government has not returned the document. Government officials said the relevant office has run out of passport paper - but ordinary Zimbabweans prepared to pay a high fee can get a passport in 24 hours.

ZANU-PF has accused Tsvangirai of trying to sink the talks even though the longtime ruling party has conceded the Finance Ministry, saying this was found to be sufficient to satisfy mediator Thabo Mbeki, who noted the concession in a report to SADC.

But the MDC has taken the former South African president to task over that memo, saying it shows he is not an unbiased mediator. The MDC wrote to Mbeki saying he has endorsed the unilateral gazetting of ministerial portfolios by President Mugabe two weeks ago.

In Nairobi, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga urged the African Union to bear down on Mr. Mugabe to cooperate in launching the promised national unity government.

"It hurts to see the AU watching helplessly as Mugabe continues to run down Zimbabwe. The AU should act for the sake of Zimbabweans and ensure that Mugabe agrees to share power with the opposition," the Standard newspaper quoted Odinga as saying.

United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios meanwhile was in Swaziland for discussions with King Mswati, who is currently chairman of the SADC troika or political committee which is seeking to resolve the MDC-ZANU-PF standoff.

U.S. Ambassador James McGee, who last week in Washington criticized President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF for "obstructing" the power-sharing process, told VOA in an interview from Harare that he still believed power-sharing could work but that ZANU-PF had to recognize Tsvangirai's March electoral mandate from the people.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the MDC formation led by Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party will reluctantly attend the SADC session.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera of Harare said the MDC's threat to boycott the meeting was mainly a strategy to increase pressure on Mugabe.

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