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Zimbabwe Parliamentary Official Says Two Houses To Convene Next Week


Members of the new Zimbabwean parliament elected in the country's March 29 elections will be sworn in next week, state media reported on Tuesday, adding to the tension surrounding the ongoing power-sharing negotiations between the ruling party and opposition.

The state-operated ZBC Newsnet service reported that Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma told reporters that members of the house of assembly and senate will be sworn in by Tuesday at the latest. He was quoted as saying preparations were at an advanced stage.

The announcement follows a recommendation by regional leaders at the recent summit of the Southern African Development Community that legislative work might begin while negotiations continue between the long-ruling ZANU-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change.

But Secretary General Tendai Biti of the dominant MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters on Monday that his formation opposes seating parliament before an accord has been finalized. Despite intense negotiations and heavy pressure from regional leaders this past weekend, Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe could not reach agreement on their respective roles and powers within the proposed national unity government.

Political analyst John Makumbe, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe, told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government’s decision to convene parliament could end up scuttling the power-sharing talks.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...