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Mugabe's govt: parliament to convene next week

Mugabe's govt: parliament to convene next week

President Robert Mugabe plans to open parliament next week for the first time since members were elected four months ago, but the opposition said Thursday such a step would undermine power-sharing talks.
Members of parliament were to be sworn in Monday and Mugabe will open their session Tuesday, Cabinet clerk Austin Zvoma said on state radio late Wednesday.
Main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, speaking to reporters Thursday during a visit to Kenya, said he did not believe Mugabe would be able to open parliament.
"Convening parliament is a violation, is a repudiation of some of the conditions" of an agreement that opened the way to power-sharing talks, Tsvangirai said. The parties agreed that "President Mugabe will not proceed to do anything unilaterally, that any step that we take has to be by consensus."
"If President Mugabe proceeds to convene parliament, appoint a new Cabinet, it means that he is proceeding to violate the conditions ... which means that he may have abandoned the basis for the talks. But we don't know what his intentions are," Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai said a violation would "have to be dealt with by the mediator," South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said Mbeki had not received a formal request from Tsvangirai, but would be willing "to discuss the matter" if such a request were made.
Mugabe can argue Zimbabwe's neighbors have endorsed his move. At a weekend summit, leaders of the Southern African Development Community pressed Zimbabwe's factions to complete the power-sharing negotiations and said "that while negotiations are continuing, it may be necessary to convene parliament to give effect to the will of the people as expressed in the parliamentary elections held" March 29.
The opposition won the most parliament seats in March, putting ZANU-PF in the minority for the first time since independence in 1980. But presidential elections held alongside the parliament vote were disputed, and Mugabe and Tsvangirai are in power-sharing talks to try to resolve the impasse.
By convening parliament, Mugabe may be hoping to pressure Tsvangirai into making concessions. Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai need the support of a smaller opposition faction to control parliament, and that faction has indicated it was ready to work with ZANU-PF. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change holds 100 seats _ six short of a majority in the 210-member house. Of the remaining seats, ZANU-PF has 99, a breakaway MDC faction 10, and an independent politician who recently left ZANU-PF one.
If ZANU-PF were to control parliament, Tsvangirai's position in the power-sharing talks would be weakened.
In Kenya, Tsvangirai said negotiators have been unable to work out a balance of power.
Tsvangirai told regional leaders at the weekend summit he wanted to be a powerful prime minister. His proposal would leave the presidency to Mugabe, but endow the office with few powers. Mugabe reportedly insists on relinquishing little of the authority he has wielded since independence.
"How do you share not only responsibility, but also authority over government?" Tsvangirai said Thursday. "How do you distinguish between head of state and head of government without necessarily defining anyone as ceremonial? It is not envisaged that the president becomes ceremonial. On the other hand, it is not envisaged that you have got a ceremonial prime minister.
"It is that balance that is necessary to establish, and I think that's where the outstanding issue is," he told journalists in Nairobi, Kenya's capital.
Tsvangirai said he was consulting with Kenyan politicians on how they agreed to share power after a disputed presidential election in December led to violence. The Kenyan agreement left incumbent Mwai Kibaki, accused of stealing the vote, as president, with his rival, Raila Odinga as prime minister.
In Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe and two other candidates March 29. However, the official tally did not give Tsvangirai the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff. He withdrew from the June runoff, citing state-sponsored violence against his supporters.
Mugabe held the widely denounced runoff anyway and claimed an overwhelming victory.
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Associated Press reporter Tom Maliti in Nairobi contributed to this report.


Updated : 2020-12-03 16:29 GMT+08:00