Zimbabwe unity government by week's end: Mugabe

HARARE – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Monday he expected a unity government to be formed by the end of this week, ending an impasse with the opposition over cabinet posts.

"We discussed the ministries before I left. Only four remain, but there is no deadlock. We will be setting up government this week, towards the end of the week," Mugabe told reporters when he returned home from a U.N. General Assembly meeting.

An outline agreement signed this month between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai brought hope that political stability could reverse Zimbabwe’s economic chaos.

Tsvangirai, who is set to become prime minister under the deal, called on Saturday for the formation of a power-sharing government "in the next few days" to help end the crisis.

Under the deal, Mugabe retains the presidency and chairs cabinet, while Tsvangirai will chair a council of ministers supervising the cabinet.

So far, Zimbabweans have seen little benefit from the deal.

The central bank introduced higher denomination banknotes on Monday in another sign of the runaway hyperinflation that shows no sign of abating.

Arthur Mutambara, who heads a small faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is also taking part in the negotiations and is set to be one of two deputy prime ministers.

The opposition will have a combined cabinet majority, with Tsvangirai’s main MDC faction controlling 13 cabinet posts in the new government, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF 15 and Mutambara’s breakaway MDC faction three. Reuters