Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mugabe constitutional amendment move is cynical

Today's move by embattled Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to publish a draft constitutional amendment implementing a power-sharing deal with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change should not be interpreted for more than what it is. Mugabe has no intention of sharing power with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai or anyone else and publishing the amendment without consulting his supposed MDC partners illustrates this clearly. The international community should not be fooled and should continue to pressure Mugabe to turn the government over to Tsvangirai, the top vote-getter in the March election. Election officials from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, which lost control of the parliament in March, destroyed the ballots they claimed necessitated a runoff between Tsvangirai and Mugabe, making a recount impossible. Mugabe claimed victory in the June runoff, even though Tsvangirai withdrew because of widespread violence he blamed on Mugabe supporters. Tsvangirai and Mugabe signed a power-sharing agreement brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki in July, but its terms have not been implemented. Amendment 19 would formalize the terms of the deal, which created the prime minister's post for Tsvangirai, according to Cable News Network (CNN). MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told CNN that the majority party will not support the amendment if it does not address outstanding issues, such as control of vital ministries in the government. The two parties agreed to the amendment last month but Mugabe's party has not cooperated under previous agreements. "In the event that the collaboration that we envisage is not forthcoming, then that will necessitate fresh harmonized elections at some point in time," Chamisa said, according to CNN. Zimbabwe is battling a cholera epidemic that has infected more than 16,000 people, according to the World Health Organization, CNN said. ZANU-PF blamed the epidemic on Great Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler.

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