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Stalemate In Zimbabwe


Stalemate In Zimbabwe
The political crisis drags on in Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party are blocking formation of a unity government reflecting the will of the Zimbabwean people as voiced in this spring's presidential elections.

Power-sharing talks between Mr. Mugabe and opposition leaders aimed at dividing departments and cabinet posts broke down again with Mr. Mugabe's demand that he retain control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and with it the national police.

A summit of southern African leaders in Johannesburg tried to break the deadlock with a proposal that the ministry be run jointly. That was rejected by Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (the MDC), and other opposition leaders, who see the arrangement as unworkable and in violation of the spirit and intent of the September 15th power-sharing agreement. They said that if all issues in the power-sharing talks weren't resolved, they wouldn't join in a unity government unified in name only.

Their stand is an honorable one, for the compromise was no compromise at all. Mr. Tsvangirai out-polled Mr. Mugabe in the March elections, and the Zimbabwean people clearly want change. Allowing the long-time president to reclaim power through key government ministries strengthens his hand and prevents that change, as well as relief for the nation's long-running humanitarian crisis.

Mr. Tsvangirai and the MDC now face some hard choices, but there is no obvious next step to end the stalemate. Stand firm? Join with a leader they don't trust? Seek greater input from world leaders to pressure Mr. Mugabe for true power sharing? The situation continues to perplex, and must be faced with wisdom and perseverance. As officials there ponder their next moves, however, the United States will continue to provide food aid and other humanitarian assistance to assist the people of Zimbabwe.

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