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Southern African Leaders Seen Divided On Zimbabwe Solution

Leaders of the Southern African Development Community will meet in summit on Sunday in South Africa aiming to break the deadlock in the troubled Zimbabwean power-sharing process, but the SADC leaders could find themselves deeply divided as well.

Spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa of the South African Department of Foreign Affairs told VOA that the precise venue in South Africa will be decided on Wednesday.

Botswanan President Ian Khama has already taken a strong position, saying the SADC leaders should consider an internationally supervised rerun of Zimbabwe's turbulent March presidential election as a way to break the entrenched deadlock.

Khama said it "should be unacceptable for ruling parties to seek to manipulate election outcomes to extend their stay in power, as this is bad for democracy on our continent."

African diplomatic sources said President Robert Mugabe and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai have been working the phones seeking support from regional heads.

The diplomats said some SADC leaders want to read Mr. Mugabe the riot act and recommend the matter be taken to the United Nations Security Council.

But these sources said Mr. Mugabe is likely to find support from Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi and Namibia. Tsvangirai could have Angola, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and Mauritius in his corner, the diplomats said.

British Minister for Africa Mark Malloch-Brown told the House of Lords Monday that while African leaders are dismayed by Mr. Mugabe's conduct though not saying it publicly.

He said the leaders "as a whole are in no doubt, in private conversations, about their dismay at the damage that President Mugabe is doing to his country and the region; but, as has always been the case, they often find it difficult to express that complaint publicly, for fear that it would merely strengthen Mugabe’s position at home."

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party is hoping SADC can resolve the crisis without resorting to a presidential re-run.

Political analyst and human rights lawyer Brian Kagoro said from Nairobi that Khama's proposition for a new round of presidential voting in Zimbabwe is viable.

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