MDC to attend controversial opening of Zimbabwe’s parliament

August 23rd, 2008 - 2:46 am ICT by IANS  

Harare, Aug 23 (DPA) Newly elected legislators of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main party opposing President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU(PF), will attend the controversial opening of Zimbabwe’s new parliament next week, a spokesman said Friday.”We are gathering on Sunday and we will get sworn in on Monday at 10 a.m.,” said Eddie Cross, an MDC member of parliament from the western city of Bulawayo.

“Then at the first sitting Monday afternoon, we will vote in a new speaker,” Cross said.

His statement appeared to end mixed signals from senior officials from the main faction of the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, on whether members of parliament and senators would attend the opening.

An agreement signed in July by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a smaller MDC faction leader, said that parliament should not be convened until power-sharing talks had reached a conclusion.

The three-week dialogue, mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, is bogged down over the roles of Tsvangirai and Mugabe in a future government.

Activists in the MDC have said that sitting in a new parliament with Mugabe as president would acknowledge his authority after a violent and fraudulent election last month that has been internationally condemned.

However, a summit of the Southern African Development Community, the 14-nation regional political bloc, this week urged that the Zimbabwean parliament be convened to avoid “a vacuum”.

“What we do thereafter depends on whether there is a deal done this weekend,” Cross said.

“If there is no deal, we will do something else. We won’t sit in a parliament with Mugabe (as executive head of state).”

Tsvangirai’s MDC won 100 seats in the House of Assembly, the lower house, in the first set of elections held March 29, while Mugabe’s ZANU(PF) party won 99 seats and Mutambara’s faction secured 10 seats.

A loose alliance between the two MDCs has been proposed to provide an absolute majority with a strong margin over ZANU(PF).

“It’s a moot point whether we will muster all 100 MPs,” said Cross. “We’ve got guys all over the world, in the US, in South Africa, people in hiding. We’re working flat out to get everybody there but we won’t know till the day.”

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