Mugabe swears in ministers ahead of Mbeki talks

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Brushing aside a stand off with the opposition over cabinet posts in a new unity government, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe swore in two vice presidents from his party on Monday, a day former South African President Thabo Mbeki was due in the country to mediate in the dispute.

The veteran leader signed a power-sharing deal, brokered by Mbeki, last month under which two opposition parties would join government.

But Mugabe and the opposition parties have deadlocked on the allocation of cabinet posts, prompting the former to threaten to withdraw from the agreement.

The opposition accuse Mugabe of trying to monopolise key ministries, including defence, finance, home affairs, justice and information.

On Saturday, he unilaterally allocated all the important ministries to his ruling ZANU-PF party, prompting fresh opposition threats of a pullout from the power-sharing agreement.

The two sides had earlier agreed Friday to call in Mbeki to try and mediate the dispute over the allocation of cabinet portfolios.

But Mugabe Monday appointed two vice presidents from his party ahead of Mbeki’s visit, further angering the opposition.

The move was widely seen as an attempt to strengthen his hand ahead of the tough Mbeki-led power-sharing negotiations.

He retained Vice President Joseph Msika and Joyce Mujuru in the positions.

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