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Mugabe, Tsvangirai Hold First Cabinet Meeting


Zimbabwe's new unity government held its first Cabinet meeting Tuesday, with President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai sitting down as colleagues for the first time.

The longtime rivals met with Cabinet ministers at the government's headquarters in downtown Harare. There was no immediate word on what was discussed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tsvangirai's designated deputy agriculture minister was brought to court for the first time since his arrest Friday.

At a court in the eastern town of Mutare, Roy Bennett was charged with taking part in a plot against the government and entering the country illegally. He was initially charged with treason, but those charges were dropped Sunday

Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party says the charges are politically motivated, and is demanding Bennett's immediate release.

Bennett is a white farmer whose property was expropriated under Mr. Mugabe's land reform program. He spent two years of self-imposed exile in South Africa after police sought to question him in connection with the discovery of an arms cache.

MDC leaders including Mr. Tsvangirai have said elements within Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party are trying to undermine the power-sharing deal that led to the new government.

The sides entered the deal only after intense pressure from southern African leaders.

The new government faces the task of reviving Zimbabwe's collapsed economy. The country is suffering from food shortages, 94 percent unemployment, and a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 3,700 people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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