Reports: Mbeki Seeks Cancellation of Zimbabwe RunoffBy VOA News
19 June 2008

South African President Thabo Mbeke (file photo)South African media say President Thabo Mbeki has urged Zimbabwean leaders to cancel the June 27 presidential runoff election.

Mr. Mbeki visited Zimbabwe on Wednesday, holding separate meetings with President Robert Mugabe and his rival, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Two South African newspapers, Business Day and The Star, which did not identify their sources, say Mr. Mbeki tried to convince the two men to form a government of national unity. They say he also tried to arrange a first-ever meeting between the candidates.

There was no immediate confirmation from Mr. Mugabe or Mr. Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe has been plagued by violence leading up to the runoff. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says four of its activists were found dead Thursday near Harare.

U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to discuss Zimbabwe's political crisis before the U.N. Security Council today.

Election officials in Zimbabwe say opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won more votes than President Robert Mugabe in first-round voting March 29, but fell short of a majority.

The opposition accuses Mr. Mugabe's supporters of waging a campaign of violence and intimidation ahead of the runoff. The ruling party blames the opposition for the violence.

World leaders are increasing pressure on Mr. Mugabe to ensure the vote is free and fair.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "profound alarm" Wednesday at the situation in Zimbabwe. He said the violence, intimidation and arrest of opposition leaders could not lead to credible elections.

Mr. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.

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