Annan's services 'not required in Zimbabwe'

Banjul - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has cancelled a planned trip to Zimbabwe aimed at resolve an economic and political crisis in the southern African country.

Annan said he had held talks with President Robert Mugabe on the sidelines of the African Union summit, and was told that the former leader of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa would now mediate to help Zimbabwe out of its crises.

He said Mugabe had "advised" him that the former president of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, "had been appointed a mediator".

"We both agreed that he should be given the time and space to do his work.

Asked if his trip to Zimbabwe was still on Annan said: "You don't have two mediators."

He said he told Mugabe that he was committed to help Zimbabwe out of its crises and would support the work of the mediator.

Mugabe last year invited Annan to pay a visit to Zimbabwe after a UN envoy criticised his government's demolitions campaign in which shacks, homes and shops were bulldozed, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and without income.

Mugabe last week attacked what he termed "so-called initiatives to rescue Zimbabwe".

Saying these initiatives made it seem the country was about to "perish", Mugabe said: "What Zimbabwe needs is just and lawful treatment by the Western world... a recognition that it is a full, sovereign country which has the right to own and control its resources, the right to chart its own destiny unhindered."

The octogenarian leader, who has ruled the country since independence from British colonial rule in 1980, said his country has "no saviours outside of its own people".

Annan arrived in Sierra Leone on Sunday and was to travel to Ivory Coast on Monday.

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