Zimbabwe's MDC pulls out of unity government

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai in June 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the country's Prime Minister, has pulled out of the coalition government, accusing Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe of being "dishonest and unreliable".

Tsvangirai and his MDC party said that they would pull out from the government until outstanding issues in a power-sharing agreement between Tsvangirai and Mugabe were resolved. He made the announcement following a crisis meeting that was called after the MDC treasurer general was indicted on charges of terrorism.

Tsvangirai said that “this party, for now, cannot renege on the people’s mandate. However, it is our right to disengage from a dishonest and unreliable partner."

“In this regard, whilst being in government we shall forthwith disengage from Zanu-PF [Mugabe's party] and in particular from cabinet and the council of ministers until such time as confidence and respect is restored among us,” he said.

The Prime Minister, however, added that the pullout would most likely be only temporary, and that the MDC would still conduct some activities in the parliament. "We are not really pulling out officially," Tsvangirai said.

A spokesman for the Zanu-PF party responded to Tsvangirai's move. “If MDC wants to disengage [...] we don't have a problem with that. We were having problems with MDC, working together. We have been trying but it was not easy,” said spokesman Ephraim Masawi.

The former Information and Publicity minister, Jonathan Moyo, who is a member of the Zanu-PF, accused the MDC of acting "childishly".

The Zimbabwean coalition government was launched eight months ago, after a heavily disputed election that was marred by violence. Tsvangirai obtained a majority of votes in the 2008 presidential elections, but decided to withdraw from a run-off election with Mugabe, claiming that Mugabe had used violence against his supporters. A deal was eventually made, under which Mugabe would retain his post, but Tsvangirai would assume the position of prime minister. Zanu-PF and Mugabe, however, have still been accused of being unwilling to give up their power or to reform.