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Skepticism Over Mugabe's Assertion Of Good Faith In Zimbabwe Power-Sharing

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's declaration this week before the United Nations General Assembly that he and his ZANU-PF party are committed to the power-sharing pact they signed Sept. 15 with the Movement for Democratic Change has not relieved concerns that the proposed unity government could fail to become a reality.

Mr. Mugabe told the General Assembly on Thursday that ZANU-PF will abide by the letter and the spirit of the agreement, while urging that sanctions on senior officials in his government and party be lifted, contending that they have caused suffering in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Mugabe praised agreement mediator Thabo Mbeki, who stepped down this week as South African president, and thanked the Southern African Development Community and the African Union for supporting negotiations that led Zimbabwe out of post-election turmoil.

Despite Mr. Mugabe’s assurances that ZANU-PF is acting in good faith with respect to the accord, some international observers have concluded that the compact is in trouble and could be on the verge of collapse.

The Times of London quoted one unnamed Western diplomat as saying that “we are looking at the possibility of this thing failing,” while another envoy estimated there was a 25% chance that power-sharing in Zimbabwe would end in tears.

Opposition sources said the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai is preparing to appeal to the Southern African Development Community and African Union, who stood as guarantors of the power-sharing pact, should President Mugabe fails to deliver on naming a balanced cabinet once back from New York.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told VOA that Mr. Mugabe and his lieutenants seem reluctant to cede real power to the MDC, adding that state media has been vituperating against the party contrary to the terms of the accord.

The former opposition party says violence has been rising in Manicaland and other provinces, and doubts as to the durability of the accord have arisen following Thabo Mbeki’s resignation as South African president, given his key role in achieving the agreement.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera told Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the MDC strategy of turning to the deal's African guarantors is the right move.

Examining Mr. Mugabe's speech more broadly, political analyst Glen Mpani of Cape Town said that in attacking the nations that sought Security Council sanctions over the conduct of the June 27 presidential runoff, Mr. Mugabe was engaging in self-justification.

Midlands correspondent Taurai Shava reported from Gweru that a senior official in Tsvangirai's MDC formation told a meeting there that despite the current deadlock over cabinet positions, Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF ultimately will be obliged to give ground to the MDC because the country cannot continue much longer under current economic conditions.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...