Thabo Mbeki meets with Robert Mugabe

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South African President Thabo Mbeki arrived in Zimbabwe Saturday for peace talks with President Robert Mugabe over the electoral impasse in the country.

Political tensions, with potential regional ramification, are rising in Zimbabwe over the refusal by the authorities to release the results of the 29 March presidential election which the opposition claims to have won.

Officials said Mbeki was to hold anti-crisis talks with Mugabe over the electoral impasse and douse fears by neighbouring countries this could explode into violence and spill over to their countries.

Despite a court appeal by the opposition for the release of the poll results, the authorities have refused, alleging fraud instead.

A court is expected to rule in the case on Monday.

Officials said the South African leader was en route to Zambia where a regional summit of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) has been called to resolve the Zimbabwe electoral impasse.

But Mugabe, feeling increasingly isolated, has snubbed the meeting, saying his Zambian counterpart Levy Mwanawasa had not consulted him properly for the meeting.

Analysts said Mbeki and the Lusaka summit were expected to deliver a tough message to the veteran Zimbabwean leader to respect the will of the people and accept the election results.

Mbeki, who was last year appointed by SADC to mediate in a stand off between Mugabe and his political opponents, headed straight into a closed door meeting with the veteran leader on arrival in Zimbabwe.

He was expected to brief other SADC heads of state in Lusaka on the outcome of his meeting with Mugabe.

In the meantime, the opposition, in addition to the court appeal, has called for a general strike Tuesday to press for the release of the presidential election results.

The call has ratcheted up tensions in the country, forcing police Friday to ban political rallies countrywide on security grounds.

International  International news in general
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