Mugabe warned against convening parliament

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THE Movement for Democratic Change has said it is committed to reaching an agreement with Robert Mugabe on the formation of a government of national unity, but is warning him against convening parliament before a deal comes through.

Tendai Biti, MDC secretary-general Tendai says failure is not an option in this dialogue.

Biti said he was confident the dialogue would be concluded ‘very soon’ but, in an apparent reference to Mugabe, added that one of the parties to the talks had ‘no business negotiating unless they are prepared to compromise.’

Biti also warned Mugabe against convening parliament, a move the MDC

A last-minute meeting of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security said: ‘While negotiations (on a government of national unity) are
continuing, it may be necessary to convene parliament to give effect to the will of the people as expressed in the parliamentary elections held on 29 March 2008.’

On this Biti says ‘We hope that no one would do anything to breach the
memorandum of understanding on the talks.’

The July 21 memorandum, which set down rules for the tripartite talks,
orders that the parties not convene parliament or form a new government ‘save by consensus.’

An senior MDC official said the party viewed the SADC statement as an
attempt to pressure it into agreeing to a deal, but vowed it would not work.

‘We don’t have consensus to reconvene parliament. How do you reconvene parliament with an illegitimate government?’ the official said.

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has been calling for parliament to be reconvened since Morgan Tsvangirai backed away from a power-sharing agreement before the weekend SADC meeting.

Tsvangirai’s MDC faction took more votes than Zanu-PF in the March elections but Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a splinter faction of the MDC that holds the balance of power between the two groups in parliament and is a party to the talks, has said he would consider working with either.

Biti said the sticking point in the talks – the division of powers between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai, if Tsvangirai is made prime minister as proposed
under a draft deal – was a point ‘of principle.’

The MDC official said there had been no progress towards a deal at the
summit and that the party had ‘stuck by its guns.’

Tsvangirai is pushing for full control of government while Mugabe is looking to share authority.

Mbeki, who had been talking of the possibility of a deal over the weekend, reiterated his hopes for a ‘speedy conclusion to the negotiations so that it becomes possible to address the enormous challenges that face the people of Zimbabwe.’

Zimbabweans are hoping a negotiated settlement will rescue the country from the brink of economic collapse.

Mugabe’s populist policies over the past decade are blamed for inflation of several million per cent and widespread hunger.

Western powers such as Britain and the United States have vowed to plough money into the country’s reconstruction if Tsvangirai and the MDC head the unity government and Mugabe takes a back seat.

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