Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Tsvangirai could walk out

CENTERS OF GRAVITY The opposition leader said that at a minimum, his party should be in control of the Finance and Home Affairs ministries

AP AND NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , JOHANNESBURG

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s spokesman said he is flying to Zimbabwe to help resolve a deadlock in power-sharing talks to end that country’s crisis.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe announced at the weekend that he is allocating all key ministries in the proposed unity government to his party.

Before a chanting, cheering crowd of more than 10,000 of his supporters, Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday in Harare that his party would walk away from a power-sharing deal rather than settle for the imbalanced division of ministries handed down by Mugabe the day before.

Mbeki spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said the former South African president was to fly to Zimbabwe yesterday afternoon.

African leaders asked Mbeki to mediate over disputed results of elections in which Tsvangirai’s party won most votes.

Mbeki persuaded the rivals to share power on Sept. 15, but they cannot agree Cabinet posts.

Tsvangirai said that at a minimum his opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, must control the Finance and Home Affairs ministries. The Home Affairs Ministry oversees the police.

Before this year’s elections, thousands of his supporters were beaten and more than 100 killed in a violent campaign that witnesses and election monitors said had been led by the military as the police stood by passively, or actively collaborated.

Mugabe has given his own party, ZANU-PF, which has been in power for the past 28 years, the crucial ministries, including those that control the army, the police and foreign affairs.

He also provisionally assigned his party the Finance Ministry, regarded as crucial in a country where production has collapsed, poverty has deepened and annual inflation has soared to 231 million percent.

“What ZANU-PF wants is not power-sharing, but power-grabbing, and we must not allow that to happen,” Tsvangirai said.

There is also pressure from the opposition’s rank and file to pull out of the talks. At the rally on Sunday, many in the crowd angrily shouted out in Shona, the language of Zimbabwe’s majority: “Get out of the talks!”

Tsvangirai won the March elections but not by an outright majority. He withdrew from the June runoff, citing extreme violence against his workers and supporters.

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