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Ban welcomes agreement to hold talks aimed at ending crisis in Zimbabwe

21 July 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the announcement by the country’s President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that they have signed an agreement paving the way for talks to end instability in the country.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties in Zimbabwe, which provides a framework for formal talks to end the political crisis in the country,” according to a statement released by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

Mr. Ban commended the efforts of South African President Thabo Mbeki and his mediation team in facilitating the signing of the agreement and stressed that the UN was committed to supporting continuing mediation efforts through participating in the Reference Group.

Zimbabwe has been plagued by violence and unrest since a first round of presidential elections was held on 29 March, followed by a run-off election last month in which Mr. Mugabe was declared the winner after Mr. Tsvangirai dropped out.

The Reference Group “will accompany the mediation process and consult, as needed, on how to facilitate and advance the negotiations,” according to the UN spokesperson.

The other members of the group are the African Union and the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“The Secretary-General encourages all sides to engage, in good faith, in serious talks that would lead to a lasting solution to the political crisis and address the urgent economic and humanitarian needs of the Zimbabwean people,” the spokesperson said.

Mr. Ban also urged the enabling of humanitarian operations in the country to provide assistance to those in dire need.

Senior UN political official Haile Menkerios was in Pretoria over the weekend to consult with President Mbeki and AU Chairperson Jean Ping on the situation in Zimbabwe.



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