- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2008

ZIMBABWE

Party asks Mugabe to form government

HARARE | Zimbabwe’s ruling party asked President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday to form a new government with immediate effect, a fresh sign that a power-sharing agreement with political rivals is collapsing.

Zimbabweans, faced with the world’s worst inflation and acute food shortages, hoped that a Sept. 15 deal would end the southern African country’s ruinous political and economic crisis.

The Sept. 15 deal envisages power-sharing with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of Morgan Tsvangirai, but it has run into a stalemate amid MDC charges that the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party is trying to seize most of the main Cabinet ministries.

A summit of regional leaders said Sunday that Zimbabwe should form a joint government immediately and the main rivals should share control of the disputed Home Affairs, or interior, Ministry to try to end the impasse.

Mr. Tsvangirai rejected the 15-nation Southern African Development Community proposal, saying Mr. Mugabe’s “utter contempt” for the MDC meant it was certain to fail.

SOMALIA

Islamists seize key port town

MOGADISHU | A Somali Islamist militia that the U.S. calls a terror organization seized a key port town Wednesday, giving it control of most of southern Somalia and sidelining the weak government.

The capture of Merka, 56 miles from the capital, Mogadishu, means the hard-line al-Shabab militia holds both major ports with airstrips south of Mogadishu. Merka is a key conduit for food and aid workers. The group now controls most of the country’s south, with the crucial exceptions of Mogadishu and Baidoa, where the parliament sits.

The group, which seized a strategic town in central Somalia on Tuesday, has not controlled Merka since 2006, when it was ousted from power by Ethiopian soldiers supporting the shaky transitional government.

ZAMBIA

EU declares vote for president free

LUSAKA | The European Union on Wednesday declared Zambia’s presidential elections last month were free and fair, despite claims by the opposition of vote rigging.

The EU said despite short notice following the death of President Levy Mwanawasa in August, the Electoral Commission of Zambia held credible elections.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda beat his closest opposition rival, Michael Sata, by a slim margin in the Oct. 30 election, which the opposition claims was rigged in favor of Mr. Banda.

Mr. Sata had complained that the voter roll had not been updated since the last election in 2006, but a court ruled that the old list could be used because authorities needed to hold the vote soon after Mr. Mwanawasa’s death.

SOUTH AFRICA

Court dismisses Mbeki appeal

JOHANNESBURG | A court dismissed an appeal by former President Thabo Mbeki against a court ruling that led to his ouster by the ruling party, newspaper reports said Wednesday.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday dismissed Mr. Mbeki’s appeal of the Sept. 12 ruling that implied he had meddled in the prosecution of corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), the Star and Business Day reported.

Mr. Mbeki on Sept. 22 filed papers against the parts of the court ruling that prompted the ANC to force him to resign.

The judges said that it would “not be in the interest of justice” to entertain the suit.

The National Prosecuting Authority had opposed Mr. Mbeki’s suit because it has filed its own appeal against the same judgment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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