August 26, 2008

Zimbabwean President Expresses “Every Expectation” for Power- Sharing Deal

Text of report by South Africa-based ZimOnline website on 26 August

[Report by Jameson Mombe: "Mugabe Remains Optimistic about Talks Deal"]

HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said there was "every expectation" of reaching a power-sharing agreement with the opposition in a speech on Tuesday to mark the opening of Parliament.

Negotiations to form a government of national unity have stalled because MDC [Movement for Democratic Change] leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe cannot agree who between them should control a government of national unity.

The extent of animosity between the two rivals came to the fore as MDC parliamentarians jeered and heckled Mugabe, drowning large parts of his speech to a new hung Parliament that will also have an opposition Speaker - the first time since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain that this has happened.

"You killed people, we won't forget that," MDC legislators shouted at Mugabe, who the opposition charges has no legitimate claim to the presidency and that he should not have opened Parliament before conclusion of power-sharing talks.

Mugabe used his speech to defend his rule, chronicling the achievements of his ZANU PF [Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front] party that he has led in power for the past 28 years.

He also used the occasion to express his regret for political violence but said all Zimbabwe's political parties were to blame for the "isolated cases of political violence" that marred the run-up to the June 27 presidential election that was boycotted by the opposition.

On the talks with Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, who heads a breakaway faction of the MDC, Mugabe said: "Landmark agreements have been concluded, with every expectation that everyone will sign up."

The MDC, which does not recognise Mugabe's presidency, had earlier threatened to boycott the opening of Parliament but later decided to attend the ceremony to show support for its national chairman Lovemore Moyo who was elected Speaker of the House of Assembly yesterday.

ZANU PF won the presidency of the Senate where it has more seats. The upper chamber has power to block legislation coming for the House of Assembly.

Analysts say the election of an MDC Speaker and ZANU PF Senate President highlights the fact that any major decisions in Parliament will now have to be by consensus and Mugabe can no longer rely on the House to rubberstamp his decisions as before.

Originally published by ZimOnline, Johannesburg, in English 26 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.