Zimbabwean unity talks fail

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Robert Mugabe
Image: Jeremy Lock.

Talks between Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have failed to reach an agreement on who will be in the unity cabinet.

A power sharing deal was signed approximately three weeks ago, as a way to resolve a crisis that has been ongoing since the elections over three months ago.

Nelson Chamisa, a spokesperson for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) expressed grave concern over failure to reach a deal. He described it as "a threat to people's lives".

"People are dying," Chamisa said. "The humanitarian response has to be activated and you need a functional government to do that."

Thabo Mbeki, formerly the president of South Africa has said that he will continue to help secure an agreement between the politicians by mediating the discussion.

In the deal signed three weeks ago it was agreed that Tsvangirai is now the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, acting as the head of the council of ministers. It was also agreed that Mugabe remains the president of Zimbabwe, meaning that he is still the chair of the cabinet.

The proposed cabinet contains sixteen seats from the MDC, while Mugabe's Zanu-PF has fifteen seats. The MDC also controls the police while Zanu-PF controls the armed forces.

The agreement also requires press freedom in Zimbabwe.