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Zimbabwe Prime Minister Returns to Cabinet Meetings

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Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and ministers of his party are due to participate in the weekly cabinet meeting for the first time in weeks. The prime minister's party decided last week to suspend a boycott of ministerial meetings in the unity government with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

The attendance of Movement for Democratic Change ministers was confirmed by the party's spokesman and Minister of Information, Communication and Technology Nelson Chamisa.

"In principle we have suspended our disengagement, [first] as a gesture of goodwill, [second] as a way of giving due respect to SADC, [third] just to give dialogue a chance and of course to allow the people of Zimbabwe to have hope. Because whatever action we take in the opposite direction decimates people's aspirations and hopes the kind of confidence they are beginning to build in the political processes," Chamisa said.

Chamisa said one of the major breakthroughs of last week's Southern African Development Community summit in Maputo, Mozambique is that the Zanu-PF Party now acknowledges the SADC communiqué of last January is part of the agreement that brought about the unity government.

"There is now uniformity of interpretation and articulation of the position that the communiqué actually forms the greatest part of the Global Political Agreement," he said.

The January communiqué addresses issues such as the appointment of governors, the central bank governor and attorney general.

Last month, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announced a partial withdrawal from the government, saying President Robert Mugabe has not fulfilled several points agreed upon before the formation of the unity government. He also cited harassment of MDC members by the authorities.

Mr. Mugabe's party argued it had addressed all outstanding issues in the agreement and the communiqué was not a part of the so-called Global Political Agreement. The SADC summit gave the parties 30 days to sort out the outstanding issues on both the GPA and the communiqué.

Mr. Tsvangirai told a rally during the weekend that Zanu-PF has the responsibility to resolve outstanding issues.

"Zanu-PF has this window of opportunity to demonstrate goodwill, to demonstrate that they are committed to the inclusive government; to demonstrate that they are committed to the SADC resolutions and the GPA; to demonstrate that they are able to commit themselves to move this country forward," Mr. Tsvangirai said.

The prime minister said if the current discussions fail to yield results, then free and fair elections must be held. VOA asked senior Zanu-PF official and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamsa for his party's position, but he declined to comment.