- Botswana's president Ian Seretse Khama, is expected shun weekend summit of Southern African leaders because his country does not recognise Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe as a legitimate leader.
According to Botswana foreign ministry, president Khama's decision not to attend summit in South Africa underscores mounting pressure from regional leaders on Mr Mugabe and opposition to concur on sharing power to end post-election tumult.
Power-sharing talks began last month, after president Mugabe's unchallenged re-election in June, which was condemned around world as well as boycotted by opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai who claimed attacks on his supporters.
Three days of marathon meetings in capital Harare this week failed to reach a by and large agreement.
Botswana said in a statement that Zimbabwe's current government should not be represented at a political level of 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC).
"Botswana does not accept result of 27 June run-off election in Zimbabwe, as it violated core principles of SADC, African Union and United Nations," statement said.
Botswana has taken harshest stand among Zimbabwe's neighbours as all fear consequences if its worsening economic decline leads to total meltdown. Millions of Zimbabweans have already fled across its borders, mainly to Botswana and South Africa.
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF's chief negotiator, Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as, "ZANU-PF and opposition will resume power-sharing talks at summit”.
Mr Chinamasa said ZANU-PF sought a quick end to stalemate.
Political consultant to HSBC Securities, Nic Borain, said behind-the-scenes manoeuvering by may be main impediment.
"You have Tsvangirai's backers who are playing hardball and insisting on virtual disappearance of Mugabe, and you've got Mugabe's backers insisting he remains and maintains some kind of executive powers," Mr Borain said.
Mr Chinamasa further said there was pressure to convene parliament and form a government.
ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority in elections for first time since independence but is eyeing a possible alliance with opposition defectors.
MDC condemned what it called "corrosive" attempts by ministers and intelligence agents to recruit some of its members to join Mr Mugabe's government.
"These are the actions of a desperate and cornered regime," MDC said in a statement.
Mr Tsvangirai's absence from new government would do nothing to chase away investors' concerns about a country facing economic ruin, with world's highest inflation of 2.2 million percent, chronic food and fuel shortages, and high unemployment.
Chances for a breakthrough in negotiations may depend on whether regional leaders can present a united front when trying to persuade all of Zimbabwe's parties to bury their differences.
While Botswana has taken a tough line on Zimbabwe, South African President Thabo Mbeki, the chief mediator in the talks, has come under incessant fire for being too soft on Mr Mugabe.
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), a Southern African organisation, reportedly said it has brought an urgent application to a regional tribunal seeking to have Mr Mugabe barred from summit.
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