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South African President Mbeki Meets With Mugabe

South African President Meets with Mugabe

South African President Thabo Mbeki has met with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to try to help end Zimbabwe's political crisis.

Mr. Mbeki also met Saturday with leaders of a breakaway faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Saturday, however the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, declined to participate in the meeting.

A spokesman for the opposition said the party is waiting for the African Union to join the mediation efforts. The MDC has criticized Mr. Mbeki's mediation bid as being biased in favor of President Mugabe.

Mr. Mbeki told reporters after Saturday's meeting that he wanted the negotiations to move quickly.

A Zimbabwean government official criticized Tsvangirai for skipping the meeting, saying it showed a lack of respect.

Tsvangirai withdrew from Zimbabwe's June presidential runoff election because of what he called systematic violence against his supporters.

In other developments, a British newspaper says secret footage taken at a Zimbabwean prison shows how a supporter of President Robert Mugabe rigged the country's June 27 runoff election.

The film obtained by the Guardian newspaper apparently shows ruling ZANU-PF party officials forcing officers at Harare central jail to cast their ballots for Mr. Mugabe. It also shows a prominent leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti, in leg irons.

Separately, The Washington Post newspaper reports Saturday that Mr. Mugabe initially planned to give up power after losing the first round of the election.

The Post, citing sources at a key meeting, says military officials convinced Mr. Mugabe to remain in power by using the army to rig a runoff election.

Zimbabwe's government has not commented on either report.

ENDS

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