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Zimbabwe Opposition Says Ruling Party Not 'Genuine' in Power-Sharing Deal


The secretary general of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change says President Robert Mugabe is not ready to enter into a "genuine" cooperative government under the country's power-sharing agreement. For VOA, Peta Thornycroft has this report from Zimbabwe.

At a news conference in Harare, the MDC's Tendai Biti said the power-sharing agreement negotiated over several weeks had been altered by the time it was presented to the world on September 15, and left some gray areas that needed to be addressed.

Biti accused the Zimbabwe government of "emasculating basic freedoms" and not being sincere in cooperating in a power-sharing deal. Despite these concerns being discussed at a meeting of key regional leaders Monday in Harare, the gathering failed to break a deadlock, threatening Zimbabwe's power-sharing accord.

But the regional leaders agreed to call for a meeting of all 14 members of the Southern African Development Community to address the issues. Officials said the meeting could be held in the coming weeks in an attempt to persuade Mr. Mugabe and the MDC to implement the accord, widely seen as vital to pull Zimbabwe out of an economic meltdown.

The deal stalled over the allocation of Cabinet posts. The biggest sticking point is the allocation of the interior ministry, which oversees the police force.

Biti said the Movement for Democratic Change had signed the document on the basis of trust and good. But he said ZANU-PF was not sincere in agreeing to equitable power-sharing in a government of national unity.

Biti said ZANU-PF's lack of sincerity was evident when scores of civil rights activists were arrested Monday. He also cites the continued detention of women's rights leader Jenni Williams and two of her colleagues, and the beating and arrest of students earlier this month.

Biti also points out that the accord refers to creation of a National Security Council, of which prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai would be a member. He says the document does not spell out who else would be involved nor how this council would operate. He said it would need legislation to bring the council into effect.

SADC representatives and former South African president Thabo Mbeki met for 13 hours Monday to try to unblock the deadlock. Mr. Mbeki has been involved in negotiating a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis since April 2007.

Negotiations for a new constitution before elections in March failed when Mr. Mugabe decided to run elections without the agreed new constitution.

The Movement for Democratic Change narrowly beat ZANU-PF in the parliamentary poll, and Mr. Tsvangirai won more votes than Mr. Mugabe in the first round of the presidential election.