MDC denies talks underway as Mugabe party accuses G8 of "racism"

Zimbabwe's opposition party on Wednesday denied it was engaged in talks with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF on sharing power as Mugabe's goverment accused the G8 group of wealthy nations of "racism."

"The party wishes to reiterate that there are currently no negotiations between itself and Zanu-PF," Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said in a statement, reported dpa.

"A catalogue of acts of bad faith by Zanu-PF continue to poison the environment for negotiations," the MDC said in response to a report in a South African newspaper that the two parties were due to hold talks Wednesday on the country's months-long political impasse.

The African Union has called on the two parties to form a unity government, but the MDC has so far shied away from talks with Mugabe, citing an unfair playing field.

Ongoing attacks against MDC leaders, supporters and pro-democracy activists, the withholding of passports from party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and second-in-command Tendai Biti, and divisive statements in state media were among the impediments to talks, the MDC said.

Business Day newspaper had quoted South Africa's ruling African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma as saying he been informed of planned talks.

Meanwhile, Mugabe's government labelled calls by G8 leaders at a summit in Japan Tuesday to further isolate and put pressure on his regime as "racism."

The G8, after lengthy deliberations, said they refused to recognise Mugabe's government, given the violence that characterized the June 27 presidential run-off election he alone contested, and that it would take "further steps," including "financial and other measures against individuals responsible for the violence."

Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu dismissed the resolution as "ultimately of no consequence."

"Nowhere in international law is there provision for a group of countries to sit down as a private club and decide the legitimacy of governments. This is international racism," he told the state Herald newspaper.

For them to discredit Mugabe's victory in the election that Tsvangirai boycotted "is an attempt to impose a government on the people of Zimbabwe against their will. The people went out and voted, including for Tsvangirai, and President Mugabe has won and has been sworn in as head of state," he said.

Tsvangirai withdrew from the election a week ahead of voting in protest over state-backed militia attacks on his supporters that have killed around 110 people since the first round of voting for president in March. He won that round.

Three African election observer teams found the vote, which handed Mugabe a sixth term in office, was undemocratic, while Western leaders termed it a "sham."

Ndlovu also rejected the G8's endorsement of the MDC's demand for expanding mediation attempts, currently solely in the hands of South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The MDC has called for up to three AU envoys to oversee talks with Mbeki, whom the party accuses of pro-Mugabe bias. The AU has so far refused to accede the MDC's request.

"What do they want to impose another mediator for? President Mbeki has proved his mettle as an African statesman par excellence, and so we will follow the AU and the SADC position on this," said Ndlovu. dpa jr cb ms

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