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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Sharply Criticizes President Mugabe Over Appointments


Mr. Tsvangirai's comments, among the most bitter he has directed at Mr. Mugabe in 20 months of uneasy power sharing, followed the disruption of constitutional revision outreach meetings by militants of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday lashed out at President Robert Mugabe, accusing his governing partner of violating the constitution by making unilateral appointments to top posts and warning that his Movement for Democratic Change would protect the constitution by disregarding such appointments.

Mr. Tsvangirai's comments, some of the most bitter he has directed at Mr. Mugabe during the past 20 months of an uneasy power-sharing government put in place following failed national elections in 2008, came as the constitutional revision process intended to lead to new elections appeared to be foundering on familiar political shoals.

Mr. Tsvangirai deplored the violent disruption of constitutional revision public comment sessions in Harare and around the country by militants of Mr. Mugabe's former ruling ZANU-PF party. Observers and civil society monitors have for months reported intimidation of the public by ZANU-PF activists promoting the party's constitutional views.

The prime minister said he and his formation of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change would no longer recognize Mr. Mugabe's appointments of provincial governors, judges and other top posts - including the late-2008 appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

“I was prepared to work with Mr Mugabe to allow him to address the mistakes of the past, and to help him to rebuild his legacy This is why, despite the challenges that I have faced in working with him, I have repeatedly said that whilst our relationship was not perfect, it was workable," Mr. Tsvangirai told reporters in Harare.

“This was meant to encourage Mr Mugabe to right the wrongs of the past. However, the events of the past few months have left me sorely disappointed in Mr Mugabe, and in his betrayal of the confidence that I and many Zimbabweans have personally invested in him," he said.

Correspondent Irwin Chifera reported on Mr. Tsvangirai's broadside at President Mugabe.

On the troubled constitutional front, the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee known as COPAC said it is continuing with business despite harsh criticism from Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC and calls by others for its dissolution.

Lawmaker Jesse Majome, chairwoman of the panel's information and publicity subcommittee, told VOA reporter Patience Rusere that until the panel has new instructions it will carry out its original mandate

Majome said public comment sessions are being wrapped up in the provinces while meetings in Harare that were canceled amid clashes last month have been rescheduled for October 16 and 17.

The National Constitutional Assembly, a non-governmental organization that opposed the parliamentary led revision process from the start, has urged that it be shelved calling it fatally flawed.

But former student leader Promise Mkhwanazi said too much work has been done to abandon the exercise now.

Mkhwanazi, a former president of the Zimbabwe National Students Association now studying international relations in the Netherlands, said even an imperfect process is better than the negotiated constitution some now propose.

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