Zimbabwean parliament passes unity government bill

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Robert Mugabe

The parliament of Zimbabwe has unanimously voted for a constitutional amendment allowing a coalition government to be formed between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Under the bill, Mugabe would remain president of the country, but Tsvangirai would take the office the prime minister. The latter is to be sworn into office on the 11th of February.

The bill, after being endorsed by the House of Assembly, was subsequently taken to the Senate, where it was passed without a single dissenting vote. Mugabe is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday.

Tendai Biti, the secretary-general for the MDC, stated that the new coalition government should give hope to the country, saying that "we have no choice other than to give this experiment a try."

Other people, such as political commentator John Makumbe, however, are wary of the deal. "I think Mugabe's plan is to compromise them, and I think he is going to play his usual devious games in that new government as well, try to grab all the powers for himself," Makumbe said.

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Tsvangirai won the presidential election in March of last year, but not by a large enough margin to avoid a run-off election, held in June. Tsvangirai withdrew from those elections, citing state-sponsored attacks against his supporters.

The southern African country has been crippled by several crises recently, not least of which are a cholera epidemic, which has killed 3,323 people, and rampant hyperinflation, which has officially been measured at 231,000,000% per annum. The United Nations has estimated Zimbabwe's unemployment rate at 94%.



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