Monday, November 10, 2008

Zim power sharing talks collapse

from the LATimes

Reporting from Harare, Zimbabwe -- Talks aimed at saving a power-sharing deal collapsed Sunday after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai rejected a call by regional leaders to share control of Zimbabwe's police with the party of President Robert Mugabe.

Control of the police force, which has been used as a tool of repression by Mugabe's government for years, has been a deal-breaker for Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, since talks began after elections this year. Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri is one of several key backers of Mugabe who said before the first round of elections in March that he would never serve under Tsvangirai.

Police took no action during a wave of political violence in which more than 120 activists were killed and thousands more severely beaten by ruling party militias.

The proposed compromise offered by the regional Southern African Development Community, or SADC, would have left Mugabe in control of the armed services and intelligence, and sharing the police. Tsvangirai argues that unless the opposition gets full control of the police ministry, Mugabe will retain effective control of the security services.

The MDC offered its own compromise, providing regional leaders with two possible lists of Cabinet ministers, saying Mugabe could choose either one -- an approach SADC leaders rejected. Tsvangirai denied accusations by Mugabe that he was training a militia in neighboring Botswana.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of an MDC splinter party, said his group would not join a government controlled by Mugabe's ZANU-PF without Tsvangirai's party. But he said Tsvangirai should accept the compromise offered by the regional leaders.

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