SADC backs Mugabe over powersharing; to assist Congo Army

November 10th, 2008 - 8:48 am ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Nov 10 (DPA) The suffering of Zimbabweans looked set to continue for some time to come after a summit of Southern African leaders Sunday tried but failed to breathe life into Harare’s floundering power-sharing agreement.After more than nine hours of talks among leaders of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai remained far apart on how to divide power.

Tsvangirai rejected SADC’s proposal to break the deadlock, which involved his and Mugabe’s parties sharing control of the hotly disputed home affairs ministry, which controls the police and the electoral processes.

In a “poisoned” atmosphere like that between his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, “quite clearly the concept of co-ministering cannot work,” Tsvangirai said.

Under the terms of the Sep 15 agreement brokered by South African ex-president Thabo Mbeki to worldwide acclaim, Mugabe remains president and Tsvangirai becomes prime minister of a unity government of 31 ministries.

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF gets 15 ministries and the MDC 16 - 13 for Tsvangirai’s party and three for a breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

Two months later, the talks have foundered mainly on which party gets which portfolio.

The MDC has accused Zanu-PF of keeping all the most important portfolios for itself and of not being sincere about powersharing.

Opening the summit, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, chairman of SADC, said the Zimbabwe impasse, which is framed by a worsening humanitarian crisis, was “disappointing” and called on the leaders to show “political maturity”.

The summit also addressed the conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the presence of Congolese President Joseph Kabila and senior officials from neighbouring Angola.

Blaming the “intransigence” of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda for the breakdown of past regional peace agreements, SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao, reading from a communique, said that SADC “would not stand by and witness incessant and destructive acts of violence by any armed groups, against innocent people of DRC.”

“DRC Armed Forces need to be assisted in order to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country,” SADC said, pledging to provide aid and to send peacekeepers to oversee a ceasefire “if and when necessary” in Congo’s North Kivu province.

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