South Africa to host regional summit on Zimbabwe

JOHANNESBURG Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:21am GMT

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe (R) greets school children with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) at Harare International Airport January 19, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe (R) greets school children with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) at Harare International Airport January 19, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa will host a special regional summit on Monday to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe, officials said on Thursday.

The summit follows the failure of talks earlier this week to bridge the divide between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, on forming a power-sharing government.

"The summit of heads of state and government is expected to be attended by all (Southern African Development Community) member states," the South African Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Zimbabwe is a member of SADC and the statement said the MDC was also expected to attend the summit.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza and Thabo Mbeki, SADC mediator and former South African president, met the two Zimbabwean sides in Harare last Monday but no agreement was reached.

A unity government is seen as the best chance of preventing total collapse in once prosperous Zimbabwe, where prices double every day and more than 2,000 people have died in a cholera epidemic.

A September power-sharing deal has stalled amid disputes over who should control key ministries.

Regional leaders have faced mounting international calls for stronger action to end the crisis.

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