(AFP) – Aug 15, 2008
GABORONE (AFP) — Botswana sees Robert Mugabe's recent re-election in Zimbabwe as illegitimate and its president will not attend a weekend summit of regional leaders, the government said Friday.
Botswana's foreign minister will represent the country at the 14-nation Southern African Development Community summit instead of President Ian Khama, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"The authorities in Harare under the present circumstances should not be represented at the political level at any SADC summit as that would be equal to giving them legitimacy," the statement said.
"The ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the Republic of Botswana wishes to announce that his excellency the President Ian Khama will not attend the SADC summit scheduled for August 16 and 17, 2008 in South Africa."
Botswana had earlier threatened to boycott the summit if Mugabe, re-elected president in Zimbabwe in a June poll widely condemned as a sham, participated without a negotiated settlement in his country.
"Botswana does not accept the result of the June 27th run-off election in Zimbabwe as it violated the core principles of SADC, the African Union and the United Nations," the foreign ministry statement said on Friday.
Power-sharing talks to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis adjourned on Tuesday when main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he needed more time to consider a deal agreed by Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara, the head of a smaller opposition faction.
Tsvangirai boycotted the June presidential run-off despite finishing ahead of Mugabe in the March first round, citing rising violence against his supporters.
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