Archive for Saturday, August 30, 2008

Aid agencies prepare to start work again

August 30, 2008

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— Power-sharing talks over a unity government resumed Friday as President Robert Mugabe's government made good on a promise to allow aid agencies to resume operations in economically shattered Zimbabwe.

Oxfam and Save the Children said a government ban on their work had been lifted almost three months after it was imposed.

The government had ordered independent aid agencies to stop work before a presidential runoff, accusing them of supporting opposition activists.

The groups denied the accusations, and the ban had been widely condemned as a ploy by the governing party to manipulate voters.

A month ago, the governing party agreed to lift the ban to help open the way to power-sharing talks.

Earlier Friday, South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad was quoted by South African media as saying "all relevant players are in South Africa" for a new round of talks.

Mugabe opened an agricultural fair in Harare on Friday, while his aides were in South Africa for negotiations.

The fair was once a major event, but it has deteriorated in recent years along with Zimbabwe's farm-based economy.

In recent weeks, the negotiations focused on trying to bring Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai into a unity government.

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