Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'New York Post' slammed for publishing ISIS execution images

Read more

DEBATE

Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza: Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza conflict: 72-hour ceasefire deal sets stage for Cairo talks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

Africa

Parliament paves way for unity deal

Latest update : 2009-02-05

Zimbabwe's parliament has passed a constitutional amendment paving the way for political rivals Robert Mugabe (photo) and Morgan Tsvangirai to share power.

AFP -  Zimbabwe's parliament on Thursday approved constitutional amendments that will pave the way for a unity government next week, in a bid to haul the country out of economic and political crisis.
   
The amendments were approved without dissent in both houses, in about three hours of debate. They will create the new position of prime minister, a post that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is set to assume next week.
   
Under the unity accord, President Robert Mugabe will remain as head of state, and the two parties will divide the cabinet posts.
   
Approval of the amendments marks a key step toward forming the government that was agreed to on September 15 but left in limbo amid fractious negotiations on how exactly to divide power between the parties.
   
Tendai Biti, the lead negotiator for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said it was a "miracle" that the parties had managed to agree on the unity accord at all.
   
"Everything has happened on the negotiating table other than physical confrontation. It is a miracle that we are here," he said at the start of the session.
   
"We go into this government knowing that for this to work there has to be commitment," he said. "It is important to establish trust from the word go."
   
In elections last March the MDC seized a parliamentary majority for the first time and Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first-round presidential vote.
   
The result sparked a wave of political violence, which Amnesty International says left more than 180 dead and targeted mainly MDC supporters.
   
Hoping to quell the violence, Tsvangirai pulled out of a runoff election in June, and Mugabe declared a one-sided victory denounced by the international community.
   
South Africa has mediated between the parties in the hope of sealing a power-sharing deal, which Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed in September but stalled almost immediately.
   
Months of bickering over the division of cabinet posts and control of security forces ended only last week, after the rivals agreed to a compromise backed by regional leaders.
   
But they have still struggled to agree on who will control key cabinet posts, with Tsvangirai jetting to Cape Town on Wednesday for last-minute talks with South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.
   
Still, the bitterness remains clear.
   
"It has been a long, frustrating, quarrelsome journey characterised by animosity and name-calling, but notwithstanding this, what is important is we have reached this path," Mugabe's lead negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said at the opening of the session.
   
African leaders, and especially South Africa, are placing all their bets on this deal working. At the African Union summit in Ethiopia this week, they called for on the European Union and the United States to lift sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle.
   
But western countries remain cautious, saying they want to see clear signs of progress before lifting the travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his aides.
   
"While we underline that this is a positive development, it does not itself spell the end of the political, economic and humanitarian crises Zimbabwe finds itself in," EU ambassador to South Africa, Lodewijk Briet said in a statement.
   
"This first step towards normalising the situation in Zimbabwe must be underpinned by clear confidence building measures by the new government," he added, a sentiment that has been echoed in Washington.
   
Amid Zimbabwe's political paralysis, the economic and humanitarian crisis has deepened. Inflation, last estimated at 231 million percent in July, is now believed many times higher.
   
Unemployment is at 94 percent, while seven million Zimbabweans -- more than half the population -- need emergency food aid.

Date created : 2009-02-05

COMMENT(S)