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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Threatens to Form Government Without Opposition

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has threatened to form a new government without including the opposition, but has not withdrawn from talks aimed at forming a government of national unity. As VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg, the opposition has condemned his comments as a recipe for disaster.

The state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Mr. Mugabe as saying that he would soon be forming a new government, and adding that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change apparently did not want to be part of it.

Mr. Mugabe had been jeered and heckled by MDC legislators Tuesday during his opening address at parliament. His comments reported by The Herald were made at a lunch following those events.

A spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC has condemned the comments as a declaration of war against the people of Zimbabwe. Speaking to Agence France Presse, spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Mr. Mugabe is trying to hijack the leadership of Zimbabwe.

Both factions of the MDC say they will not be party to the formation of a government until the conclusion of the power-sharing talks that are currently in stalemate.

But some observers note the current war of words between Zimbabwe's political parties are attempts by each side to create pressure on the other in advance of the eventual resumption of the negotiations.

University of Johannesburg political analyst Adam Habib tells VOA that Mr. Mugabe needs to halt the collapse in Zimbabwe's economy. Habib adds that to do so the Zimbabwe leader needs a government of national unity and needs the MDC to be part of it.

"There is a recognition that none of the international aid is going to materialize without the MDC, at least the majority section of the MDC, being represented in government," he said.

Meanwhile, the Harare lower court has postponed the treason case against MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti to November. Biti, who is also the MDC's chief negotiator was charged in June, and his lawyer says the evidence against him is fraudulent.