Zimbabwe opposition to demand end to violence in first talks with Mugabe

Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have began their first talks since the widely condemned and violent elections last month that returned Robert Mugabe to power.

Both sides have been under heavy pressure to enter negotiations since Mr Mugabe's re-election in an uncontested run-off poll on 27 June. Diplomatic sources in Pretoria said the talks had begun in South Africa but did not specify the location.

The MDC, which boycotted the election because of violence that it said killed 103 of its supporters, had until now refused to enter talks. It said negotiations could not resume until the violence ended and Mr Mugabe accepted the result of the presidential election in March, won by the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

A MDC source in Harare said the talks were preliminary and would discuss ending the violence. "Our team is in South Africa, where they will have preliminary talks with Zanu-PF, starting today," said the source. "It means something is happening. So these are not the actual talks, but preliminary discussions on what the talks will focus on.

"This is where we are going to talk about issues of violence and it is from these discussions that the MDC will decide whether to engage in full negotiations if our conditions for an end to political violence are met. We will also have to agree on the agenda for the talks."

The talks are being mediated by South Africa, designated as lead negotiator by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The diplomatic sources said a breakaway faction of the MDC, led by Arthur Mutambara, was also taking part. Zimbabwe's High Court has relaxed bail conditions on the MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti – who faces charges of treason – and returned his passport, allowing him to attend the talks.

Elsewhere, the Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has backed sanctions against members of the Zimbabwean government, supported by the G8 leaders this week. "I think the fact that it sends a strong message about the disagreement against those things that are really causing a country and its people to suffer makes it appropriate for those actions," she said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003