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Zimbabwe Summit Fails to Break Deadlock

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says he will form a new government as quickly as possible, and said he hopes Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai will change his mind and accept a proposal by regional leaders to set up a unity government. Peta Thornycroft reports from southern Africa.

The regional leaders said Sunday a joint government should be formed immediately in Zimbabwe and the main rivals should share control of the disputed Home Affairs Ministry to try to end a political stalemate.

The Zimbabwe parties have been trying to form a unity government since signing a September 15 agreement mediated by the Southern African Development Community.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao said the regional leaders had considered proposals for the Home Affairs Ministry from all three parties, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai and minority-party leader Arthur Mutambara.

Salomao said SADC cannot afford to postpone the formation of an inclusive government because there is a dispute over who gets the Home Affairs Ministry.

"We are dealing with an above normal circumstances and we cannot afford to postpone the formation of [an] inclusive government because there is a dispute on who appoints the minister of Home Affairs. And the parties came to SADC and asked the summit, SADC make a ruling. And that was the ruling made by summit to be implemented [as of] yesterday; so in terms of timeframes, [it] is a matter of urgency," he said.

Mr. Tsvangirai said he could not go along with the SADC resolution and was "sad" and "disappointed" that the MDC quest for Home Affairs had been rejected. He said he could not commit his party to a role with responsibility, but not power.

President Mugabe unilaterally appointed key ministries to his ZANU-PF party last month, giving it the other main security ministries, Defense and Intelligence.

Mr. Mutambara said his party would abide by the SADC resolution, but he said as a signatory to the September agreement neither he nor his party could take part in any government Mr. Mugabe might form unilaterally.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe chaired the summit and called for the three Zimbabwe leaders to agree to end their country's suffering.

"It is disappointing that it is two months since the signing of the agreement and the parties have not yet been able to conclude the discussions on the formation of the inclusive government," said Mr. Motlanthe. "The political leadership owe it to the people of Zimbabwe and the region to show political maturity by putting the interests of Zimbabwe first."

There have been many breaches of the September agreement with arrests of MDC and civil-rights activists and evictions and harassment of productive farmers. Neither SADC nor South Africa have reprimanded Mr. Mugabe's Zanu PF for the violations.

Leadership in Zimbabwe has been disputed since March elections, in which the MDC deprived Zanu PF of its parliamentary majority and Mr. Tsvangirai won more votes than Mr. Mugabe in the presidential poll.

The SADC leaders also endorsed the continued mediation of former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who the MDC has accused of protecting Mr. Mugabe.