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Zimbabwe Opposition Says Constitutional Amendment on Unity Government Premature


In Zimbabwe, a proposed constitutional amendment to create a unity government has been published, paving the way for parliament to take up the matter. But, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change says negotiations over power-sharing must be concluded first.

President Robert Mugabe's government says, if the opposition does not endorse the amendment in parliament, he will call new elections. The two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, have a majority of the 210 seats in Parliament, and a two-thirds majority is needed to amend the constitution.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC, said Sunday 10 of the 31 ministries still need to be negotiated before addressing the constitutional amendment.

On Saturday, South African President Kgalema Mothlanthe said the publishing of the amendment will pave the way for the formation of an inclusive government. Mr. Mothlanthe is also chairman of the regional Southern African Development Community, or SADC, which at a summit last month said it had resolved the remaining differences toward forming a unity government in Zimbabwe.

The African Union last week encouraged all three parties, Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC, the ruling ZANU-PF party and a small faction of the MDC, whose leaders signed a global political agreement in September, to go into government as soon as possible.

Veteran Zimbabwe political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said Sunday, the MDC was holding out to see if it could get more power over the security portfolios.

He warned that if the MDC did not go into an inclusive government, the party should expect that its structures would be further depleted by repression and that the economic decline would intensify.

Zimbabwe's spiraling economic decline has been compounded by a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 800 people and infected nearly 17,000 others.

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