Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has asserted claim to key disputed ministries, outraging the opposition and imperiling a fragile power-sharing agreement signed three weeks ago.
The state-owned Herald newspaper published a list Saturday that handed the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, the powerful ministries of defense, justice, foreign affairs and home affairs, which controls Zimbabwe's police. Those Cabinet posts would essentially secure Mugabe's 28-year grip on power and make the recent deal meaningless.
The Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party, denounced the list as a “midnight ambush” by ZANU-PF and said no agreement on ministries had been reached. The opposition released a list depicting its own “general understanding” of the state of negotiations and showing justice, home affairs and foreign affairs under MDC control.
The ruling party, the MDC and a splinter opposition party have been squabbling for weeks over 31 cabinet slots. On Friday, the parties agreed to summon former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the power-sharing deal, to help break the deadlock, news services reported.
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Mbeki, who was forced to resign last month but remains the official mediator in Zimbabwe, is scheduled to arrive Monday in Harare, the capital. But analysts say his diplomatic powers have been diminished.
The Herald said official appointments would be made upon Mbeki's arrival. But the paper said Mbeki's sole task would be to help allocate the finance ministry, which it said “Comrade Mugabe provisionally assigned to ZANU-PF.”
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the presidential election in March but failed to get the clear majority necessary to avoid a second round of voting. Mugabe then unleashed his security forces in a crackdown on opposition supporters, prompting Tsvangirai to pull out of the June runoff. Mugabe won that vote, which was uncontested and internationally condemned.