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Norway Urges African Union Intervention in Zimbabwe Unity Government Impasse

Norwegian Development Minister Solheim told reporters in Lilongwe, Malawi, that he wants Malawian President Bingu wa Mutarika, now AU chair, to take a 'leading role' in resolving the crises in Zimbabwe and Kenya

Norwegian Development Minister Erik Solheim, who met with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year in Harare, called on the African Union Wednesday to intervene to break the political deadlock between the partners in the power sharing government in Harare.

Solheim told reporters in Lilongwe, Malawi, after meeting with President Bingu wa Mutarika, now in the African Union chair, that Oslo wants Mr. Mutarika to take a “leading role” in the resolution of crises in Zimbabwe and Kenya which both plunged into political turmoil following disputed 2008 election results.

Norway last year increased its aid to Zimbabwe to fund basic education and health and promote democracy.

The AU has been criticized for failing to take action on Zimbabwe even political violence erupted in 2008.

But Executive Director Nicole Fritz of the South African Litigation Center told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that there is little the AU can do, especially with Harare on its security council.

Elsewhere, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told reporters in Johannesburg that his institution was concerned about the political deadlock in Harare and is not ready to make new loans to Zimbabwe.

The IMF executive said South African President Jacob Zuma had pressed the IMF to resume extending loans to Zimbabwe, but Strauss-Kahn responded that Harare must pay down its substantial arrears and make further progress on governance issues.

The IMF restored Zimbabwe's voting rights last month at the request of Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

In Harare, meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai celebrated his 58th birthday with a small gathering at his Strath Avenue residence. He thanked members of his formation of the Movement for Democratic Change for showing resilience in their fight for democracy. President Mugabe was not invited, MDC sources told VOA.