Opp’n spurns Mugabe’s olive branch | world | Hindustan Times
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Opp’n spurns Mugabe’s olive branch

President Robert Mugabe invited Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to his inauguration after a widely condemned election which African observers said was unfair.

world Updated: Jun 30, 2008 01:43 IST

President Robert Mugabe invited Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to his inauguration on Sunday after a widely condemned election which African observers said was unfair and scarred by violence and intimidation.

Tsvangirai immediately rejected the invitation, saying the inauguration was meaningless after an illegitimate poll. He said he would ask the African Union not to recognise Mugabe’s re-election.

Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said the invitation was “done in the spirit of the president’s wish to reach out.... It is a major step towards political engagement”.

The veteran Zimbabwean leader is under heavy pressure from within Africa to enter talks with Tsvangirai over the country’s political and economic crisis. “Well, you know that the whole inauguration is meaningless as far as I’m concerned, so I can’t give support to an exercise I’m totally opposed to... the whole world has condemned it, the Zimbabwean people will not give this exercise legitimacy and support,” Tsvangirai said.

He said the opposition was committed to African Union sponsored talks with Mugabe’s government although no negotiations had started.

Analysts said before Friday’s vote that Mugabe defied a chorus of calls to call off the one-candidate election so that he could negotiate with Tsvangirai from a position of strength. meaningless after an illegitimate poll. He said he would ask the African Union not to recognise Mugabe’s re-election.

Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said the invitation was “done in the spirit of the president’s wish to reach out.... It is a major step towards political engagement”.

Pan-African parliament observers, one of the few groups able to monitor the ballot, said the vote was so flawed it should be rerun.

The election followed a campaign in which, according to human rights groups, at least 86 people died and some 200,000 were forced from their homes.