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Regional Leaders Fail To Constitute Quorum, Defer Zimbabwe Summit

South African President Jacob Zuma
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe, due to be held Sunday in Maputo, Mozambique, has been cancelled after a number of leaders said they would not be able to attend.

A certain number of leaders should be present at such summits if they are to constitute a quorum. SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao told VOA that the regional leaders want maximum participation.

"There are three dates that we were considering, so the chairman of SADC is consulting regional leaders to come up with a consensus date, it is important that all regional leaders attend this crucial meeting," said Mr. Salomao.

High on the agenda of the summit was Zimbabwe’s forthcoming election and the roadmap to the polls.

Coming hard-on-the-heels of a divisive Constitutional Court decision that elections must be held by July 31, regional leaders were also set to discuss ways of raising money to help fund the watershed election.

SADC officials refused to disclose the names of the leaders who said they would not make it to Maputo.

Diplomatic sources say President Robert Mugabe might be one of them. Mr. Mugabe was recently in Tokyo, Japan, for a meeting of African leaders. He flew to Singapore after the summit. The president is expected in Harare on Friday.

Mr. Mugabe's aides are said to have asked for more time to prepare for the summit. Reports from Harare also say the parties in the government of national unity are indicating that they need more time to deliberate on the election date.

Mr. Salomao told VOA that the regional body is still consulting on the new date of the summit.

Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi, director of the Media Centre, says it is important that all SADC leaders attend. “This is a crucial summit as far as Zimbabwe is concerned because it is to decide on the future of a key SADC country and as such it is important for all leaders to attend."

The contentious power-sharing arrangement between President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is set to end with elections expected as early as July.
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