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Botswana Won't Share Table With Mugabe - Skelemani

Staff Writer
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani, has reaffirmed government's position that it does not recognise Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe and will not attend any African Union (AU) or SADC meetings if he is invited.

Answering questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday after giving a statement to the House, Skelemani said that Mugabe was not democratically elected, hence his leadership is illegitimate. He, however, said the government will recognise the outcome of the ongoing talks between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai's party on transitional government to solve the country's economic and political crises. He said that the Botswana Embassy in Harare would remain operational since "it does not only service the government there but also the ordinary Zimbabweans". He said that government will screen all refugees entering Botswana and those qualifying for political refuge status will be assisted whilst economic refugees will be returned home.

In his statement, Skelemani said that the reasons for Botswana government not recognising Mugabe are clear in that environment in the run-up to the June 27 presidential run-off was not conducive for holding

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free and fair elections. He said that despite international calls on Mugabe to halt the elections until the environment was conducive to holding elections, he went ahead and held a one-man show. The minister regretted the fact that many people lost their lives; there was damage to property and many people were displaced because of state-sponsored violence against opposition supporters. He pleaded with Zimbabweans to take advantage of South Africa President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts to find a resolution to the political and economic crises in their country. Meanwhile, the BOCISCOZ petitioned Mbeki through his High Commission here saying they are against any government of national unity because Mugabe lost the March 29 elections. South Africa is scheduled to host the SADC Summit this week and Botswana has already indicated her intention not to attend if Mugabe is invited.



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