The United States Monday expressed disappointment over the failure of a southern African regional effort to get the main Zimbabwean parties to agree on power-sharing. Officials say new U.S. sanctions are possible if President Robert Mugabe fails to give the opposition a meaningful share of authority. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
The State Department is calling the latest compromise offer by President Mugabe another example of the long-time leader's attempt to "subvert the will" of the Zimbabwean people.
It is making clear its disappointment over the results of the weekend summit on Zimbabwe of leaders of the southern African regional grouping SADC, and raising the prospect of additional U.S. sanctions targeting Mr. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.
Mr. Mugabe, despite a power sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangerai in September, has unilaterally named ZANU-PF loyalists to key ministries of defense, justice and foreign affairs.
In a talk with reporters, State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood expressed agreement with Mr. Tsvangerai that the formula advanced at the SADC summit for the parties to share control of the Home Affairs Ministry, which oversees the country's police force, falls well short of what is required:
"I think you can understand his [Tsvangerai's] position right now. I mean, this is supposed to be power-sharing, and this example of trying to share the Home Affairs Ministry doesn't reflect the will of what the Zimbabweans voted for," said Wood. "And so we're disappointed. And what we want to see is true substantive power-sharing negotiations so that they can agree on a cabinet, and so that Zimbabweans can feel that they have a future."
Wood declined to criticize SADC leaders for the latest negotiating setback, saying they face a difficult task in trying to get Mr. Mugabe to sit down and negotiate seriously with the opposition.
He said the United States had long been concerned about whether the September agreement could be implemented.
Zimbabwe has been effectively without a government since disputed elections earlier this year in which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change won enough seats to control parliament, and Mr. Tsvangerai dropped out a run-off presidential race because of repression of his supporters.
Earlier Monday, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also expressed disappointment about the SADC summit outcome.
Spokesman Wood said the United States will be consulting with international partners about whether to pursue new targeted sanctions against the Harare leadership. He said sanctions are among a number of options to pursue.