John Baird to meet privately with Zimbabwe' finance minister

OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is set to meet with Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance in Ottawa this afternoon.

Tendai Biti will be speaking privately with Baird and his parliamentary secretary, Deepak Obhrai.

A spokesman for Baird says the meeting will provide an update on financial and economic reforms in Zimbabwe.

Rick Roth says the meeting will also be an opportunity for Baird to express Canadian views on the need for continued political reform in Zimbabwe, including a referendum on a new constitution, free and fair elections, and the respect for human rights.

Roth says Biti has a strong record on human rights and of pushing for governance reform.

Zimbabwe currently has a coalition government made up of President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party, of which Biti is Secretary General.

The coalition government was formed a year after the country went through violent and inconclusive elections in 2008.

Mugabe, 88, has been endorsed as his party’s presidential candidate and is expected to face Tsvangirai in an upcoming election.

Mugabe has been in power since the southern African country, formerly known as Rhodesia, gained independence from Britain in 1980.