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'Zimbabwe crisis a 'hindrance to stability' in region'

world Updated: Nov 06, 2008 16:00 IST

AFP
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Zimbabwe's political impasse is becoming a major hindrance to regional stability, the South African government said on Thursday, saying that a summit this weekend must break the deadlock.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal on September 15, agreeing to form a unity government to end months of political turmoil.

But the deal is stalled over disputes about how to divide control of the most powerful cabinet posts, particularly the home affairs ministry, which oversees the police.

"The failure of the parties to agree is something that is becoming a major political hindrance to the stability that we desire" in southern Africa, government Themba Maseko told reporters in Pretoria.

"We are indeed taking a very firm position as government that the parties understand the urgency of finding a settlement," he said.

South Africa will host an emergency summit of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Sunday in a bid to salvage the unity accord.

"It's government's view that the heads of state must now take urgent steps to make sure political solutions are found," Maseko added.

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Zimbabwe-politics-on bail pending possible trial on more than half a dozen graft cases, which could bar her from contesting a seat in the polls.

Her political rival and two time ex-premier, Khaleda Zia, was released on bail in September after more than a year in custody, also on corruption charges.

The intense personal animosity between Zia and Sheikh Hasina, who are known as the "battling begums" -- begum is a Muslim female honorific -- has repeatedly paralysed political life in Bangladesh.

The two alternated periods in office after the restoration of democracy in 1991, until the current military-backed administration came to power in January 2007.

Both women were arrested on graft charges by the government, which last year also tried to force them into exile as part of a drive to clean up a corrupt and dysfunctional political system.

Each was eventually released on bail in deals to ensure the participation of their parties in next month's elections.

Bangladesh has been ruled by the military-backed government since January last year when months of political turmoil prompted the army to cancel polls and impose a state of emergency.

The government this week scrapped two key provisions which had banned parties from organising political activities and had imposed pre-election curbs on the media.

In a further relaxation to allow proper campaigning, Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed has signed an order withdrawing 60,000 troops deployed on emergency duties.

circumstances... Tibet independence is out of the question," said Du Qinglin, a top Communist party official in charge of relations with non-communist groups, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"Semi-independence is out of the question. Independence in disguise is out of the question," Du was quoted as telling the envoys "recently".

The Dalai Lama has long championed a "middle path" policy with China which espouses "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet, rather than the full independence for the remote Himalayan region that many younger, more radical activists demand.

Envoys of the Tibet spiritual leader, who has lived in exile for nearly half a century, ended two days of talks Wednesday with Chinese officials in Beijing on the future of Tibet.

Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Kelsang Gyaltsen and three aides left for the Chinese capital on October 30 but only began formal discussions on Tuesday, according to the Tibet government-in-exile in India.

During their visit, the envoys were taken to the Muslim autonomous region of Ningxia by Chinese authorities to demonstrate Beijing's handling of minority concerns, according to the exiled administration.

Du's official title is director of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department.

The department, traditionally charged with handling ties with organisations outside the party, represents China in meetings with Dalai Lama envoys.