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Zimbabwe President meets UN chief
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2009

From Takunda Maodza in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
February 02, 2009
The Herald

THE 12th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government kicked off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday with leaders from the continent calling for the lifting of illegal Western sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The 53-member African Union executive council on Saturday adopted a resolution calling for the immediate lifting of the American and European Union-led economic embargo, saying the international community should instead support Zimbabwe's inclusive Government.

The chair of the AU Commission, Dr Jean Ping, said: "I think that everybody today should help Zimbabwe to rebuild its economy because an agreement has been reached."

The AU head also asked all members and partners "to solidly back the implementation of a comprehensive pact", while commending the country's three main political parties for their "compromising spirit and mutual accommodation".

Dr Ping expressed his appreciation to Sadc for its efforts to bring the rival parties together.

AU chairperson and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said: "The situation looks promising, it is a step forward."

The messages of solidarity came after South Africa also reiterated its call for the lifting of the sanctions, while also indicating that they would remain involved in assisting Zimbabwe rebuild its economy.

Internet news reports quoted South African presidential spokesperson Mr Thabo Masebe as saying: "This stage is critical in terms of achieving political stability and the first step towards the economic recovery of that country."

South African President and Sadc chair Cde Kgalema Motlanthe is expected to table a report on their facilitation of the dialogue process in Zimbabwe that will see an inclusive Government being formed by February 13.

The AU's calls for an end to the illegal embargo come on the back of an EU decision last week to widen the sanctions on Zimbabwe.

At yesterday's official opening of the summit, African leaders debated the creation of a federal continental African government.

President Mugabe, who arrived in Addis Ababa on Saturday evening, joined other leaders in the discussions that lasted the whole day.

Libyan leader Cde Muammar Gaddafi is strongly advocating the establishment of a continent- wide federal government built on three pillars, namely departments of foreign affairs, defence and trade.

Some African countries have since endorsed the creation of a Union Government while others support the idea in principle, preferring a gradual movement towards its establishment.

Those countries advocating for a Union Government have set an ambitious goal of uniting the continent and sharing its wealth in a manner that benefits all Africans.

The decision to devote a special session on the Union Government was taken at the last summit held in July last year at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The matter has been under discussion for half a century now since Ghana's iconic leader Dr Kwame Nkrumah first mooted the idea of a United States of Africa.

AU foreign ministers met here last Friday and received a report outlining patterns for establishing the federal government.

They did not debate the report, instead opting to leave that question for the heads of state and government who met yesterday.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe held an hour-long closed-door meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon yesterday evening on the sidelines of the summit.

Details of matters discussed were not revealed to the media, but Mr Ban is expected to address a Press conference today where he might make public details of the meeting.

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