The power-sharing process that has been unfolding in Zimbabwe for months seemed close to collapse Monday after a summit of the Southern African Development Community that was intended to find a solution to a stalemate over the allocation of cabinet posts.
The summit of the 15-nation SADC's resolved that a Zimbabwean government of national unity should be formed immediately, and that President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change should share control of the disputed and politically sensitive Home Affairs Ministry.
The MDC considers the Home Affairs Ministry, which controls the national police force, to be a critical counterbalance to the Defense Ministry, under Mr. Mugabe's firm control.
Tsvangirai, prime minister-designate in the proposed national unity government stipulated by a Sept. 15 power-sharing agreement, rejected SADC's solution as unworkable given what he described as Mr. Mugabe's "utter contempt" for the MDC - in practice still Zimbabwe's opposition party though it won a parliamentary majority in March general elections.
Tsvangirai in remarks immediately after the release of the summit communique late Sunday, expressed bitterness that Southern African leaders had not been more decisive.
Mr. Mugabe welcomed the decision and said Monday that he would form a government "as soon as possible." The next move by Tsvangirai's MDC formation was not clear. Its national executive and national council were to meet later this week to discuss strategy.
But Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa made clear in an interview with reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party feels betrayed.
Rival MDC formation leader and deputy prime minister-designate Arthur Mutambara, said he fully supports Tsvangirai's demand for his party to control the Home Affairs Ministry.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said ZANU-PF is moving to form a government whether Tsvangirai joins it or not.
The summit's ruling that ZANU-PF and the MDC should share the Home Affairs Ministry left many Zimbabweans in the South African diaspora fuming at the regional body's failure to issue a clear-cut ruling in the crisis, reported Benedict Nhlapho from Johannesburg.
Harare correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported that civic leaders and ordinary Zimbabweans roundly condemned the SADC resolution.
The U.S. government on Monday expressed disappointment at SADC's failure to resolve the deadlock. A U.S. State Department spokesman said Mr. Mugabe's compromise offer was another attempt to "subvert the will" of the Zimbabwean people, and that new sanctions could be imposed if Mr. Mugabe fails to give the MDC a meaningful share in power.
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