Southern African leaders opened a special summit today aimed at breaking the deadlock in Zimbabwe's political crisis, even though the Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was not in attendance. Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe met in the Swaziland capital with four other heads of state and former South African leader Thabo Mbeki, who has been mediating talks aimed at saving a power-sharing deal.
Mr Tsvangirai did not attend the meeting in protest at delays in receiving his travel documents from Zimbabwe's government, which his party said showed Mr Mugabe's lack of sincerity in the talks. The opposition leader has not been granted a normal passport for months, and requires emergency travel documents every time he leaves the country. His travel papers were not given to him until late yesterday, his aides said.
The South African president Kgalema Motlanthe as well as the leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Swaziland, plus Angola's foreign minister joined the talks at a five-star hotel. Arthur Mutambara, the leader of an opposition splinter group, arrived for the meeting of the so-called Troika, a security body of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC). But Mr Mutambara told reporters that he only came to say that no progress could be made without Mr Tsvangirai.
"My presence here is to declare that there is no Troika without Tsvangirai," he said. "Tsvangirai needs to get his travel documents in order to be here." The summit was called after Mr Mbeki failed during four days of talks last week to bridge differences between Zimbabwe's political rivals on how to share cabinet posts in a proposed unity government. Both sides had agreed to the SADC meeting in hopes of breaking the impasse over forming a unity government, seen as the best chance for pulling Zimbabwe from political turmoil and economic ruin.
The meeting was also expected to discuss the security situation in the conflict-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. *AFP