U. S. envoy calls on Zimbabwe principals to be flexible

10:16, January 22, 2010      

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The U. S. ambassador to Zimbabwe is urging the country's principals to the Global Political Agreement to be flexible in their demands to ensure progress in the inter- party talks.

U. S. Ambassador Charles Ray told journalists during a media roundtable that flexibility was necessary for the sake of progress.

"Everybody involved in the process .. should be flexible," Ray said. "Unless everybody involved in the process is flexible, how do you make progress?"

The ambassador's remarks came in the wake of local media reports on Monday which quoted the South African president and facilitator to Zimbabwe's inter-party talks, Jacob Zuma, as advising Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to be flexible in his demands for full implementation of the GPA.

Zuma said some of the issues being demanded by Tsvangirai's party such, as the sacking of central bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, were "trivial."

He questioned whether the issue of Gono and Tomana was so fundamental that the talks cannot be concluded without resolving it first.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe formed an inclusive government with Tsvangirai's MDC party and a breakaway faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in February last year.

This followed the signing of the GPA by the three principals in September 2008.

But since the formation of the government, the three parties have been feuding over a number of issues which have affected the smooth running of government.

The parties are due to resume talks which they adjourned on Dec. 23 to conclude outstanding issues to the GPA.

The US ambassador said all the principals, and not Tsvangirai alone, should be flexible so that the talks produce an outcome acceptable to all parties.

He said the talks could move at a better pace than they were currently moving, but noted the benefits that can be realized from frequent and prolonged interaction among the party negotiators.

"The more people of divergent views sit on the table, the more they become friendly to each other and ultimately reach a common position to govern the country for the sake of the country's interests and not the parties," Ray said.

He said the interaction of the GPA principals -- Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara -- was more crucial in enabling the parties to find a common ground on issues they were disagreeing on.

The ambassador, who took up the new job on Dec. 9 said the U. S. government would continue to assist the inclusive government to the extent possible, but emphasized the need for the country to uphold the rule of law and respect human rights.

"These are two basic elements of democracy that must be respected. You take that away and you have chaos," he said.

Ray said there was great potential for U. S. companies to invest in Zimbabwe despite the existence of a law that prohibits them to do so.

He said the political risk and not sanctions was discouraging American investors from coming to Zimbabwe.

"The lack of American investment in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with sanctions. It is about political risk," he said.

The ambassador said the U. S. government, which provided 310 million U. S. dollars in aid to Zimbabwe last year, will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the country, particularly in education and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The government will double its support to the anti-HIV/AIDS drive from 22 million dollars last year to 44 million in 2010, the ambassador said.

Source: Xinhua
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