Zimbabwe rivals to sign agreement

September 15, 2008

Zimbabwe rivals to sign agreement

An historic power-sharing deal is due to be signed in Zimbabwe, aimed at ending a prolonged political crisis.

Leaks of last week’s agreement suggest that Robert Mugabe will remain president and retain control of the army, but his powers will be reduced.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will be the new PM with substantial responsibilities, including police.

However, the proposed agreement remains fragile at this stage, BBC regional correspondent Peter Biles says.

‘Devil in detail’

The power-sharing deal is expected to be signed at a ceremony in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

Robert Mugabe:
Heads armed forces
Chairs cabinet
Zanu-PF has 15 ministers
Morgan Tsvangirai:
Prime minister
Chairs council of ministers
Controls police force
MDC has 16 ministers – 3 from smaller faction

Muted reaction to Zimbabwe deal
Zimbabwean readers’ views

In cabinet, Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and another MDC faction will together have 16 seats, while President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF will have the remaining 15, according to the leaks.

Last week, MDC chairman and Zimbabwe’s parliamentary speaker Lovemore Moyo told the BBC that although his party was pleased with the deal, it had been a compromise.

Some members have called it a climb-down, although others have said it is the best available.

Mr Tsvangirai and President Mugabe have not commented on the agreement.

The BBC’s Adam Mynott says the deal appears to give Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai roughly equal power.

Our correspondent says the devil will lie in the detail, and in the ability of the two men and the power blocks under them to wield genuine authority.

International donors have said they would resume financial aid for Zimbabwe’s collapsing economy if the opposition MDC is given a genuine share of power.

The EU said it would “evaluate the situation” at a foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday.

Mbeki’s optimism

Negotiations started at the end of July, but stalled over the allocation of executive power between Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai – bitter rivals for a decade.

The breakthrough came last Thursday after four days of talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki in Harare.

Mr Mbeki said the two sides had agreed to form an inclusive government.

He said: “I am absolutely certain that the leadership of Zimbabwe is committed to implementing these agreements.”

Zimbabwe has the fastest shrinking economy in the world with annual inflation of more than 11,000,000%.

Mr Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, won a controversial presidential run-off election in June.

He ran unopposed after Mr Tsvangirai withdrew, claiming the MDC was the target of state-sponsored violence.

In the first round of the presidential election in March, Mr Tsvangirai gained more votes than Mr Mugabe, but official results say he did not pass the 50% threshold for outright victory.

BBC NEWS [15th September 2008]

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