Zimbabwe parties sign coalition deal

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Rival political parties in Zimbabwe Monday signed a power-sharing deal to end months of political crisis heightened by disputed presidential elections earlier this year.

The coalition government deal will see President Robert Mugabe sharing power with two opposition parties. The naming of government is expected later Monday.

Mr Robert Mugabe is expected to retain the presidency under the deal, while main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai becomes the country’s prime minister, and Arthur Mutambara – leader of a smaller opposition party – deputy premier. The MDC and its breakaway faction are expected to have 16 ministers, while President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF will have 15 ministers.

The ceremony was attended by over 3,000 guests including heads of government, foreign ministers from the 14 members of the Southern African Development Community, African Union (AU) chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete as well as South African President Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the deal.

In his address, Mr Mugabe talked about the uncomfortable concessions both parties had to make to arrive at a coalition government in order “to walk the same route the same way… as we move forward – as long as salient principles are recognised – there will be room for more agreement,”.

The 84 year old Mugabe, further delved into his usual rhetoric of colonialist interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. He attracted heavy booing from the crowd when he suggested that the Zimbabwean opposition alongside other African nations had used violence in order to gain power.

Part of Mr Tsvangirai’s address touched on a point that had been made earlier by the ageing president. The coalition he said was a “product of painful compromises” which unfortunately isn’t designed to change the impoverished nature of the country’s economy. “I’ve signed this agreement because I believe it represents the best opportunity for us to build a peaceful and prosperous democratic Zimbabwe,” Mr. Tsvangirai announced. He further called for the support of the international community and African neighbours in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe.

With details of the agreement yet to be confirmed later Mondayit is believed that there will be an equal share out of power, with Mr Mugabe remaining head of state and head of the cabinet, while Morgan Tsvangarai heads a council of ministers, in charge of the daily management of the country.

The MDC and its breakaway faction are expected to have 16 ministers, while President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF will have 15 ministers.

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