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Cablegate: Lesotho: Zimbabwe Un Demarche Delivered; Tsvangirai Meets

VZCZCXRO4438
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHRN
DE RUEHMR #0136 1351722
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141722Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MASERU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3673
INFO RUCNSAD/SADC COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHMR/AMEMBASSY MASERU 4092

UNCLAS MASERU 000136

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT ALSO FOR AF/S

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV UNSC ZI LT
SUBJECT: LESOTHO: ZIMBABWE UN DEMARCHE DELIVERED; TSVANGIRAI MEETS
DEPUTY PM

REF: A) STATE 50339; B) MASERU 135

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On May 14, Ambassador delivered ref A
demarche to Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsekoa regarding UN and
SADC engagement on the crisis in Zimbabwe. Tsekoa expressed
particular appreciation for recognition of SADC's leadership
role in seeking a peaceful resolution to the electoral process,
adding that the GOL had conducted a substantive dialogue the
previous day with visiting Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai (ref B). Regarding the latter's May 13 afternoon
visit to Lesotho, a GOL press release said that Deputy Prime
Minister Lehohla had discussed Tsvangirai's concerns about
escalating violence, SADC involvement in the anticipated
presidential run-off elections, and a potential forthcoming SADC
extraordinary heads of state and government summit. Speaking to
a local journalist, Tshangarai said that his MDC party will
enter the run-off, but SADC must create an enabling environment
that will give security and confidence to Zimbabweans. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On May 14, Ambassador and DCM delivered ref A talking
points to Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsekoa regarding UN and
SADC engagement on the crisis in Zimbabwe. Minister Tsekoa
expressed appreciation for the demarche, in particular USG
recognition of SADC's leadership role in seeking a peaceful
resolution to the electoral process, and said he would relay the
points directly to Deputy Prime Minister Lehohla at a follow-on
meeting. Tsekoa noted that in order to help facilitate the
process, the GOL had agreed to meet the previous afternoon with
visiting Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for a
substantive discussion (ref B). Although the Foreign Minister
did not offer further details on the discussions, he added that
Tsvangirai "had asked for 30 minutes to brief us, but we engaged
him for nearly two hours."

3. (U) Further to the May 13 Tsvangirai visit, a May 14 GOL
press release stated that the Zimbabwean's meeting with the
Deputy Prime Minister had addressed the following issues:

-- The Movement for Democratic Charge's (MDC) concerns about
escalating acts of violence and intimidation against the
Zimbabwean citizens, in particular supporters of the opposition
MDC;
-- A request from the MDC for support from the GOL, as a member
of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in
ensuring peaceful and fair conduct of the forthcoming
presidential run-off elections in Zimbabwe;
-- An MDC appeal to SADC member states to convene an
extraordinary SADC summit of heads of state and government to
discuss the date of the envisaged run-off presidential election,
minimum conditions for the run-off presidential election, and
mechanisms for the transfer of power to the winning party.

4. (U) Speaking to a journalist from the state-owned Lesotho
News Agency (LENA) following the May 13 meeting, Tshangarai said
his MDC party will enter the run-off, but SADC must create an
enabling environment that will give security and confidence to
Zimbabweans. "We believe that we have a two-pronged approach to
the crisis in Zimbabwe, which is either a dialogue or a run-off.
Because everyone in the region has chosen a route to going
towards the run-off, we are prepared for it," he added. The MDC
leader further said there have been attempts to convince ZANU-PF
that it is necessary or desirable to negotiate a settlement
rather hold a run-off, but ZANU-PF seems unready "to accept the
will of the people."

5. (SBU) COMMENT: According to Embassy sources, the GOL
delegation agreed to attend the proposed new SADC extraordinary
summit if it is convened by the current SADC chair and to
support decisions reached collectively. While only a few
details concerning Tshangarai's May 13 meeting with top GOL
officials are now emerging, we will continue to observe
Lesotho's position on Zimbabwe to gauge any deviation from its
current position to remain in step with noninterventionist SADC
neighbors. END COMMENT.

NOLAN

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