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Zimbabwe opposition criticizes regional summit

By on January 27, 2009

Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change said it wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of a regional summit that announced an agreement between President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on power sharing.

A meeting of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community that began in Pretoria yesterday, ended this morning with South African President Kgalema Motlanthe saying Tsvangirai will be sworn in as prime minister by Feb. 11 and other ministers will be appointed by Feb. 13. In a statement issued at the venue of the talks, Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change didn’t say it had reached any agreement.
“The conclusions reached as reflected in the communiqué fall far short of our expectations,” the MDC said. “Our national council will meet this weekend to define the party position.” Zimbabwe has been in political limbo since a Sept. 15 accord signed by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of an MDC faction, amid disagreements over who will control portfolios such as the Home Affairs Ministry, which is in charge of the police. Tsvangirai won the most votes in a presidential election in March. He pulled out of a June runoff ballot because of violence against his supporters, enabling Mugabe to extend his 28-year rule.
The MDC and Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front will share control of the Home Affairs Ministry for at least six months, Motlanthe said.
Co-Minister The MDC “will present themselves on the set date for the swearing-in ceremony and proceed then to appoint ministers and establish an inclusive government,” he said. “The summit took the view that the two parties should co-minister the Home Affairs Ministry and after six months it will be reviewed.” Zimbabwe, ruled by Mugabe since 1980, has experienced a decade of recession, while almost half of the population needs emergency food aid. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said two days ago it needs $550 million this year to help boost food security and improve water, health and education services.
The European Union announced yesterday it has expanded sanctions aimed at the Zimbabwean government, accusing Mugabe of ignoring the plight of his people. Twenty-seven people and 36 companies or groups were added to a list that now contains 243 entities and individuals subject to financial sanctions and an EU travel ban.
The MDC criticized SADC for allowing Mugabe to attend the closed-door meeting of heads of state today, which “unfairly allowed” him to “be a judge in his own cause.” The MDC’s other concerns, such as the appointment of the central bank governor and attorney general, will be dealt with by the government once it is formed, SADC’s Executive Secretary Tomas Salomao told reporters.
The SADC comprises South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mauritius, Angola, Swaziland, Seychelles and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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