Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tsvangirai flexes muscles

from AFP:

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai flexed his political muscle in shunning a regional summit on Monday, but the move could backfire if he is seen as a spoiler, analysts say.

Talks to break a five-week deadlock on a unity government for the economically shattered state were postponed after Tsvangirai refused to meet rival President Robert Mugabe and four other regional leaders in Swaziland.

His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) pulled out the meeting after Tsvangirai got his emergency travel papers late on Sunday, calling the delay an "insult" to the man designated prime minister in the unity accord.

Analysts say the boycott was a show of power and frustration from the former trade union leader who has not been granted a normal passport for nearly a year, and is only able to leave Zimbabwe on documents valid for a single trip....

Tsvangirai's refusal to attend Monday's Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting without his passport was a departure from his usual acceptance of the regional body's role, said Dirk Kotze of the University of South Africa.

"I think it's an early indication that he's started to lose patience with SADC," he said.

"It's (also) a clear indication that the basis of trust, confidence in the peace-process itself, is absent," Kotze added.

However, a snub against the regional body which brokered the power-sharing agreement through Mbeki on September 15 after a drawn out stand-off could come back to haunt the MDC later, analysts say.

"It would be a dangerous mistake for him to be labelled as a spoiler by both SADC and the AU (African Union) ... but at the same time he is sending a clear message that he should be taken seriously in these negotiations," said Eldred Masungure, a lecture of political science at the University of Zimbabwe....

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