Zimbabwe opposition leaders meet Kenyan PM to resolve crisis

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Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders Friday held talks with Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga to seek his intervention on the country’s post-election crisis and sought his help in meeting with the African Union chairman Jakaya Kikwete.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary-General Tendai Biti met the Kenyan Prime Minister on his first day in office and asked him to make the crisis in the South African country a cabinet priority and push the agenda further to the AU.

“Kenya is so special for us to an extent that we have come to the office of the Prime Minister because of the special circumstances that the citizens here have gone through, there is a basic correlation that the people here feel our bitterness,” Biti told journalists.

Odinga, who met the MDC delegation before traveling to Eastern Kenya for the burial of a former Kenyan minister Jeremiah Nyaga, pledged to push for the MDC agenda, saying he would communicate with the President Kikwete of Tanzania, the AU Chairman.

Earlier, Odinga accused the African leaders of ignoring the plight of the Zimbabweans when their democracy was under siege and declared he would make a clear break.

“We are still unable to speak when democracy is under siege. It is only in Africa where two and a half weeks after an election is held, still there is no result and nobody wants to speak about it,” Odinga said.

The MDC delegation arrived here Friday from a similar mission in Ghana, also a former British colony, which they said also share similarities with Ghana.

The South African Development Community (SADC) leaders held an emergency summit on Zimbabwe last Saturday and called for the immediate release of the results.

Speaking here, the MDC leaders said they were not overlooking the SADC involvement in finding a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.

“We must speak with one voice on Zimbabwe. The AU must speak with one voice. Mugabe is trying to take the country back to the matrix of violence, by last Wednesday, 200 people had been hospitalised over the violence,” Biti said.

The opposition leaders are on an Africawide tour but have vowed not to go back to Zimbabwe until the current situation comes under control.

The opposition leadership, led by Biti and his deputy Isaac Mapoza, said they would visit Senegal after the Kenya visit.

“Kenya is special for us. It is not an accident we have come to the office of the Prime Minister. Your people feel our bitterness…all these countries share the same DNA with us.

“They have been led by leaders who were there when the British flag was lowered. By the virtue of having been there when the struggle against the post national liberation, they feel they own these countries as personal properties,” Biti said.

Kenya survived narrowly from the brink of civil war when President Kibaki agreed to negotiate with the opposition on a power-sharing accord that led to Odinga’s appointment as Prime Minister and a cabinet of 40 ministers, shared equally.

Earlier, the Kenyan Premier blamed African leaders for failing to actively pressurise for the urgent release of the 29 March presidential poll results in Zimbabwe.

“I wish somebody could tell President Robert Mugabe to follow the footsteps of President Mwai Kibaki,” Odinga told guests at his victory party on Thursday.

The MDC leaders have also rejected proposals to have its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to run against President Mugabe in a presidential run-off vote, saying he was responsible for the crisis facing the country.

“There are more than 4,000 people who died in Zimbabwe from treatable diseases. The life expectancy is down to 37 years and inflation has gone above 160,000 per cent. It is a crisis endured by our people. Our economy is in the post-second world war status,” Biti said.

The MDC, which swept a parliamentary majority during the 29 March pParliamentary elections against the ruling ZANU-PF, has been pressing for the release of the presidential results.

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