Tsvangirai snubs Robert Mugabe’s invitation

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Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has turned down an offer from President Robert Mugabe to join a coalition government, officials in his party said Friday.

Mugabe, who has been pressed to co-opt the opposition into government after inconclusive elections early last year, wrote to Tsvangirai last week, inviting him to join his administration as prime minister.

However, officials in Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said their leader had turned down the offer, insisting Mugabe should first meet conditions he had set, including an equitable share of key ministerial portfolios.

The opposition has also said it will join a coalition government brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), only if the government releases its party members and human rights activists it allegedly abducted in recent weeks.

The government and the opposition signed an agreement to form a coalition government in September, but the two sides have since differed on ministerial allocations.

The opposition has accused Mugabe of monopolising control of key ministries and vowed it will not join the government unless it is given some of the important ministerial portfolios, particularly Home Affairs which is in charge of the police.

Tsvangirai is out of the country, in Botswana, and his refusal to join the coalition government effectively kills the power-sharing deal SADC had painstakingly negotiated through former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

This offered the best hope for Zimbabwe, which is undergoing its worst economic and political crisis, to begin to recover.

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