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Tsvangirai: Zimbabwe Unity Government Intact


Zimbabwe's unity government is not in danger of collapsing despite accusations President Robert Mugabe's party is blocking reform, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Tuesday. Mr. Tsvangirai, a former opposition leader who joined Mugabe in the unity government in February, spoke to reporters a day after one of Tsvangirai's top deputies said their party was considering disengaging from the coalition.

Despite a threat by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to drop out of Zimbabwe's unity government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the power-sharing government is not in danger of falling apart.

"There is always an opportunity for divorce, but at this moment I can assure you that there is no thinking in MDC to pull out of government," he said. "What the ministers acted on yesterday was an expression of frustration."

MDC ministers boycotted a Cabinet meeting Monday after it was moved up from Tuesday. Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has complained about harassment and arrests of Mugabe's opponents and Mr. Mugabe's unilateral appointments of top officials.

But Tsvangirai said Tuesday that leaders must stand by their political commitments. He said he and Mugabe would discuss problems in the coalition when Mugabe returned from the AU summit.

Mr. Tsvangirai has been forced on several occasions to defend his decision to enter a power-sharing government with Mr. Mugabe - after years of bitter political rivalry. The prime minister said he had joined the unity government to prevent a disaster in the country, which was battling a cholera outbreak, while water, health and education services had almost collapsed.

Mr. Tsvangirai had just returned from a three-week trip where he met with European leaders and U.S. President Barack Obama to talk about, among other things, financial support for Zimbabwe. The government says it needs some $8 billion to rebuild the country.

Mr. Tsvangirai said while Zimbabwe has friends willing to help, the leaders he met with expressed reservations about the delay in fully implementing the Global Political Agreement that brought about the country's unity government.

"These issues are not foreign benchmarks imposed from outside Zimbabwe but our own conditions that we have committed ourselves to meeting when we signed the Global Political Agreement. As such the concerns of the international community are legitimate," he added.

The prime minister added that the time for talking is long past and Zimbabwe needs to help itself by standing by the political commitments it had undertaken.

Mr. Tsvangirai said the trip netted pledges of $500 million for basic health and education services. Meanwhile, China has agreed to give Zimbabwe a loan of $950 million to help it revive its battered economy.

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