Tsvangirai-Mugabe handshake cements momentous talks accord

July 22nd, 2008 - 9:16 am ICT by IANS  

Harare, July 22 (DPA) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai cemented their accord on talks about a powersharing government Monday with a much-anticipated handshake. Despite appeals from onlookers, the two leaders dodged a couple of opportunities to take each other’s hand both during and after signing a framework for talks on a unity government at a ceremony in a Harare hotel.

But after they had finished fielding questions from reporters, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Tsvangirai rose from his chair and walked over to Mugabe and extended his hand.

Clasping Tsvangirai’s hand, Mugabe grabbed the hand of the third party to the agreement - the leader of a breakaway MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara - and raised both their hands in the air, in a gesture apparently aimed at casting Mugabe as a unifier.

Before that, following his signing of the accord, Mugabe had called for his Zanu-PF party and Tsvangirai and Mutambara’s MDC factions to move together towards “one vision” for Zimbabwe.

Monday’s memorandum lays down the ground rules for two weeks of talks in South Africa on how longstanding foes Mugabe and Tsvangirai can share power.

A unity government has been prescribed by the African Union to end months of political violence.

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