Kenya PM says negotiations will begin this week
Odinga tells Tsvangirai the time has come to talk
Hopes that real negotiations between Zimbabwe's two political forces will begin soon were raised yesterday (Sunday) when the Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga said on British television that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition MDC, has agreed to talks with Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
Odinga, one of the few African leaders prepared to state publicly that Mugabe should go, said: "I have told him (Tsvangirai) to negotiate," and he predicted that the MDC leader will come face-to-face with Mugabe in South Africa this week.
"We will shortly see big changes in Zimbabwe," Odinga told his British interviewer. He said the talks would be chaired by South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, and overseen by observers from the African Union and the United Nations.
First step in such negotiations will be the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, setting out conditions under which talks could proceed. Tsvangirai had previously refused to sign, saying talks were impossible until Mugabe stopped the state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe, and freed more than 1,500 MDC activists currently in police custody.
An African Union summit in Egypt last month called for dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC, with the aim of establishing a government of national unity. But a United Nations Security Council resolution, designed to bring pressure on Mugabe to co-operate, was vetoed by Russia and China