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Namibia Refutes Claims it Snubbed Prime Minister Tsvangirai

Namibia has refuted media reports that President Hifikepunye Pohamba – a regional ally of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe this week snubbed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is currently on a diplomatic offensive meeting African leaders to push Mr. Mugabe to implement a raft of reforms ahead of elections expected sometime this year.

A statement from Mr. Tsvangirai's office said his message to African leaders is that they “need to remain seized with the problems in Zimbabwe until they were resolved through an election whose results would not be contestable.”

Newspaper reports in Namibia though said President Pohamba and Prime Minister Hage Geingob “showed no interest in meeting with Prime Minister Tsvangirai.” Mr. Tsvangirai wanted to visit Namibia on Wednesday after trips to South Africa and Tanzania, according to the reports.

But Nambian Foreign Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told VOA that Mr. Tsvangirai had not requested for such a meeting and the newspaper reports are inaccurate.

She added that Mr. Tsvangirai is a respected prime minister from a fellow Southern African Development Community (SADC) nation and Namibia cannot snub him.

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Namibia takes over from Tanzania as SADC troika chair in August. Mr. Tsvangirai’s office said the MDC leader is now in West Africa. On Thursday he met Gabon’s president Ali Bongo Ondimba.

On the same day, Mr. Tsvangirai proceeded to Abuja, where he held a 45-minute meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.

The MDC statement said Mr. Tsvangirai reiterated his concern over Zanu PF’s lack of political will to ensure that true reforms agreed to four years ago are implemented and allowed to take root well before the election.

The Premier said he was aware of a plot to "tamper with the voters’ roll" by disenfranchising some Zimbabweans and ensuring that first time voters are frustrated from registering in their large numbers.

The statement said President Jonathan said he would "remain on the side of the people of Zimbabwe who deserved a chance to democratically elect their leaders without let or hindrance."

He said it was necessary to ensure that the tragic drama of 2008 was not allowed to repeat itself. Zimbabwe, he said, should not be allowed to slide back and “Africa will not allow it”.

President Mugabe formed a coalition government in 2009 with the MDC party of Mr. Tsvangirai following disputed elections

Mr. Tsvangirai proceeds to Ivory Coast and then Botswana before returning home Sunday.