Zimbabwe deal keeps Mugabe out

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The Independent Online

Zimbabwe will remain suspended from the Commonwealth for another two years, diplomatic sources said here last night. The news came as President Robert Mugabe threatened, not for the first time, to pull out anyway.

"The Commonwealth is a mere club," said Mr Mugabe at a Zanu-PF party meeting in southern Zimbabwe yesterday. "It has become like Animal Farm, where some members are more equal than others."

Hours later, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Nigeria responded to Mr Mugabe by agreeing to keep Zimbabwe out, and appointing monitors to watch the country's progress towards reconciliation and democracy, according to diplomatic sources.

President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and the Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon, have been asked to keep an eye on Zimbabwe, in a victory for Britain and others who are determined to keep the troublesome nation out.

But Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, has fought hard to get Zimbabwe readmitted. Attitudes towards Mr Mugabe are expected to dominate proceedings today.