Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has hinted that the country could face another round of elections in two years if power-sharing fails, saying in a televised speech late Thursday that he might form a cabinet without the Movement for Democratic Change.
Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party told Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe is merely stating what the parties to the troubled power-sharing deal agreed to in the agreement signed Sept. 15.
Both MDC formations said they would welcome new elections if power-sharing fails to yield a unity government – but said major electoral reforms must first be put in place.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai, designated to be prime minister in the proposed unity government, said the party is ready for elections so long as the playing field is level and political violence is not unleashed again.
Deputy Spokesman Renson Gasela of the MDC formation of Arthur Mutambara said Mugabe is wielding the election threat to force the opposition to take part in a government though the Tsvangirai formation in particular has complained the terms are inequitable.
Meanwhile, VOA's Sonja Pace reported from London that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it is past time for Mr. Mugabe to step down.