Mugabe, Tsvangirai meet after MDC boycott
HARARE – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe met rival Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday for the first time since the prime minister's party boycotted the unity government formed by the two parties earlier this year.
A new crisis hit the fragile coalition this month when Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it would stop attending cabinet meetings in protest against the arrest of one of its senior officials and Mugabe’s refusal to fully implement a political pact.
Mugabe and his old foe Tsvangirai entered the unity government after disputed elections left the impoverished African state in a stalemate and in danger of serious violence.
But the agreement has been fraught with difficulties, delaying efforts to secure billions of dollars from Western donors crucial for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.
"The meeting has started, it is still in progress," said Tsvangirai’s spokesman, James Maridadi.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai have held weekly meetings since the formation of the new government. Monday’s meeting was the first since the MDC’s boycott.
MDC officials said the meeting would focus on outstanding issues that the former opposition party says have not been fulfilled under a political agreement signed by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and the MDC last year.
The MDC accuses Mugabe of refusing to appoint new a central bank governor and attorney general and failing to swear-in five provincial governors from its ranks and Tsvangirai’s nominee for deputy agriculture minister, Roy Bennett.
Bennett’s arrest and trial sparked the current crisis. He faces treason charges.
Mugabe last week shrugged off the former opposition’s move, saying he would not yield to pressure to make concessions. Reuters