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Zimbabwe Government Takes Steps to Stop Impasse

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe's unity government has agreed on key appointments in an attempt to resolve the political impasse that has paralyzed the new administration.

Little by little, Mr. Tsvangirai is reducing the number of issues outstanding since the swearing in of the inclusive government in February.

"This has been a slow and frustrating process. However, we have been able to reach an understanding on a number of issues," he said.

Mr. Tsvangirai said the appointment of 10 provincial governors would be divided between the parties and that the five vacant ambassadorial posts would be filled by his Movement for Democratic Change and a smaller coalition partner.

But regional leaders will still be asked to mediate the dispute over two positions seen as vital to Zimbabwe's economic recovery and restoration of the rule of law.

The two are the reappointment last November of Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono and the appointment of Attorney General Johannes Tomana, both with strong links to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF.

Mr. Tsvangirai said Gono's re-appointment was not only in breach of the political agreement, but violated the country's Reserve Bank Act. Business leaders blame Gono, who has held the position for a number of years, for the economic collapse of the country. His reappointment was seen as a major stumbling block in accessing foreign aid needed to turn the economy around.

Mr. Tsvangirai said he hoped that Southern African Development Community, or SADC, which negotiated the unity government, would deal with this as a matter of urgency.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai also said lawmaker Roy Bennett is to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister. Bennett was charged just as the unity government was being formed with weapons violations in a case linked to long-discredited allegations that the MDC plotted President Mugabe's violent overthrow. He has been free on bail since March.

Mr. Tsvangirai also said the previous strict licensing of local and foreign journalists no longer applies under the power-sharing agreement. The rules essentially barred most foreign journalists from entering the country.

He said there is no longer any legal obligation for journalists or media organizations to apply for accreditation until a new commission is in place.