Summit defers sanctions decision

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The Independent Online

Britain and Australia seemed yet more isolated yesterday in their demand for Commonwealth sanctions against Zimbabwe, as heads of government at the Queensland summit declined to act before next weekend's elections.

Britain and Australia seemed yet more isolated yesterday in their demand for Commonwealth sanctions against Zimbabwe, as heads of government at the Queensland summit declined to act before next weekend's elections.

The issue was to dominate the first full session of the 54-nation summit, which opened yesterday, but delegates decided to defer discussion of Zimbabwe until meeting in private.

On the agenda over the four days is a report by the Commonwealth ministerial action group believed to recommend that a decision on suspending Zimbabwe be postponed until after the presidential elections. The summit is expected to issue a strong statement against Robert Mugabe's campaign of violence, and to call for free and fair elections.

Tony Blair, who wants Zimbabwe suspended, appears resigned to there being a fudge. But African nations are reluctant to act before seeing reports from the election observers. Leaders agreed yesterday on a "terrorist action plan" that provides for the expulsion of member states aiding or harbouring terrorists.

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