Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Mugabe and MDC split over Pretoria summit proposals


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe voiced hope on Tuesday of a “new chapter” in Zimbabwe after a regional summit on a long-stalled unity government but the opposition said the proposals were below its expectations.

“We hope that this will open a up a new chapter in our political relations in the country and in structures of government,” Mugabe said in Harare after the emergency summit held in the South African capital Pretoria.

The 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) gave Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai until the middle of next month to form a unity government but did not spell out what steps it would take if they did not meet the deadline.

A South African source said no sanctions were being considered for the time being against Mugabe’s regime if it failed to meet the deadline.

Despite serious reservations by the opposition Movement of Democratic Change (MDC), Mugabe appeared to take the proposals as a done deal.

“We agreed that an inclusive government should be formed. Dates have been stipulated for the various acts ... starting with swearing in of the top people, the prime minister, deputy prime ministers and ministers,” he said.

Mugabe and MDC chief Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal in September after the ruling party lost legislative elections but disagreements over the allocation of key ministries have stalled the formation of a unity government.

The MDC appeared far from convinced that it would accept the fresh SADC proposals.

“That was a tentative proposal that was given by SADC. The ultimate and final decision would have to be made by the party’s national council on Friday,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

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