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Southern African Regional Leader Kabila Sends Envoy to Press Harare on Talks

DRC President Kabila dispatched special envoy for SADC affairs Leon Jean Ilunga Ngandu to press President Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara to conclude intra-governmental talks

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, currently chairman of the Southern African Development Community, has dispatched an envoy to Harare in what some see as an indication of growing regional impatience with the stalled talks in the Zimbabwean national unity government.

Regional leaders at a November 5 summit in Mozambique gave the Zimbabwean unity government negotiators and principals a month to sort out their differences - but to date the power-sharing partners have not taken any major strides towards resolving the so-called outstanding issues, which have in fact multiplied.

Kabila dispatched special envoy for SADC affairs Leon Jean Ilunga Ngandu to Harare to press President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to implement the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing in full.

Ngandu and DRC Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mawampanga Mwana Nanga met Thursday with Finance Minister Tendai Biti, chief negotiator for the Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by Mr. Tsvangirai, and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, senior negotiator for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

On Friday they met with Industry and Trade Minister Welshman Ncube, the Mutambara MDC's chief negotiator.

Biti told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that he informed Ngandu elections might be the only way forward if a talks deadlock is not broken. He said the MDC is bitter that talks are dragging on with no solution in sight.

But Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said such talk about elections is mere posturing, as the country has many reforms to put in place before it can propose to hold free and fair elections.

The three principals for their part are under intense pressure from South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, to wrap up their discussions.

But they have continued to push off discussions while failing to implement items that have been agreed.

Negotiators must still come to grips with the most divisive issues on the agenda including the leadership of the Reserve Bank and the Office of the Attorney general, and the swearing-in of promised MDC provincial governors.

Mr. Mugabe has been insisting that Mr Tsvangirai must aggressively campaign for the lifting of Western sanctions imposed on him and some 200 members of his inner circle before ZANU-PF will give ground.