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Zimbabwe rival parties deadlocked over allocation of ministries
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18:56, September 19, 2008

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The Zimbabwe ruling ZANU-PF, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and a small opposition party held its first meeting on Thursday to allocate the ministries among them after they formally signed a power-sharing agreement Monday which was aimed at solving the political and economic crisis in the country.

After day-long talks on Thursday, the rival parties failed to work out a deal on the allocation of 31 ministries among them that will make the new all-inclusive government.

Under the deal signed on Monday, Zimbabwe will have 31 ministries, 15 for the ruling and 16 for the two opposition parties.

The agreement, which sees compromises from the rival parties, said President Robert Mugabe of the ruling ZANU-PF remains the president of the country and also head of government who is the chairman of the cabinet. For Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of opposition MDC, will hold the posts of prime minister and head of the newly-established Council of ministers. He is also the deputy chairman of the cabinet.

Reports here have said that the rival parties are sharply divided over the allocation of key ministries of home affairs, foreign affairs, finance and local governments.

The opposition accused the ruling for seeking to obtaining control of important and powerful ministries.

The talks on allocating the ministries will be resumed later.

The long-awaited agreement ended the political deadlock which had been in Zimbabwe since the March 29 presidential race.

Zimbabwe held presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29, in which presidential candidate Tsvangirai received a leading number of votes but failed to win outright.

The ZANU-PF lost its Lower House majority for the first time since the country's independence from Britain in 1980, but the MDC won the majority by only a narrow margin.

Negotiations on a power-sharing deal began in July to resolve the impasse resulting from Mugabe's unopposed re-election in June. The vote was boycotted by Tsvangirai who accused Mugabe's ruling party of backing the violence against the MDC supporters.

Tsvangirai demands the lion's share of power in the unity government, insisting on respecting the results of the first round of polls.

The negotiations were very close to a breakthrough on the eve of the Southern African Community Development summit held in mid-August in South Africa but later stalled as Tsvangirai requested to "reflect and consult" on a sticking point in the dialogues.

Analysts have believed that the agreement marks an end to the country's political deadlock and brings hope for the country's economic recovery.

Since 2000, when the country began to undertake a massive land reform program, which was followed by sanctions imposed by the West, the economy has kept declining.

The country, once hailed as Africa's breadbasket, with well cultivated agriculture, the backbone of its economy, is having the world's highest inflation -- 11.2 million percent in June.

Source: Xinhua

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