Mugabe says to form Zimbabwe unity government soon

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By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe vowed on Monday to form a unity government as soon as possible, despite growing signs that a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is unravelling.

A summit of regional leaders said on Sunday that Zimbabwe should form a joint government immediately and the main rivals should share control of the disputed home affairs ministry to try to end a stalemate since their September agreement.

But Tsvangirai rejected the proposal, saying Mugabe's "utter contempt" for his MDC meant it would fail and that the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) lacked the "courage and decency" to make Mugabe accept a fair deal.

The United States voiced strong disappointment on Monday over the outcome of the SADC summit and said sharing the home affairs ministry would not work.

"This proposal that was put forth to share the home affairs ministry, to us, is just another example of the Mugabe regime's attempt to subvert the will of the Zimbabwean people," State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters in Washington.

Asked on Monday when a new cabinet will be announced, Mugabe told Zimbabwe state television: "We will try to institute it as soon as possible."

The Movement for Democratic Change said its senior leadership in the national executive and national council will meet on Friday to discuss the outcome of the summit and "the future of the dialogue process" with Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF.

"The two ... bodies will deal with the resolutions of the SADC summit, the systematic plot and concoctions of banditry against the MDC and the massive starvation and the economic plight of the people of Zimbabwe," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said in a statement.


In contrast to Tsvangirai, Mugabe applauded the regional mediation efforts.

"I think they have been persuasive this time. There is no way they can force things on parties or countries," he said. "The decision to run a country rests on the government of that country."

Analysts said the emergency summit's ruling was highly unlikely to force the rival parties to implement a Sept. 15 power-sharing deal and said a lack of resolve on SADC's part would keep playing into the hands of Mugabe.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Zimbabwean television Mugabe would invite Tsvangirai to nominate MDC members for cabinet posts, but did not say which ones.

"Whether Mr Tsvangirai is going to do that or not, time will tell," Chinamasa said.

The United States has threatened to impose additional sanctions on Mugabe and his supporters if they scupper the power-sharing deal.

"If he continues to subvert the will of the people, then we will have to look at additional measures," said State Department spokesman Wood, who declined to provide details of what targeted sanctions might be imposed and when.

Zimbabwe's bitter foes have been deadlocked over allocation of important cabinet positions since the September agreement, which Zimbabweans hoped would produce a united leadership to revive the ruined economy in the country where inflation is the world's highest and food and fuel shortages widespread.

Tsvangirai, who would become prime minister under the power-sharing deal, has accused Mugabe's ZANU-PF of trying to seize the lion's share of important ministries and relegating the MDC to the role of junior partner.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis has forced millions of its citizens to flee the country, many of them moving to neighbouring South Africa, Africa's biggest economy.

(Additional reporting by Sue Pleming in Washington; Writing by Marius Bosch; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

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