Zimbabwe marked an historic occasion on Monday today with the signing of a power-sharing agreement by the leaders of the major political parties: President Robert Mugabe for the long-ruling ZANU-PF, Morgan Tsvangirai on behalf of the dominant wing of the Movement for Democratic Change - and as prime minister designate - and Arthur Mutambara, head of a rival formation of the MDC.
Their accord, hammered out in weeks of negotiations ending in last Thursday’s announcement of a deal to govern together, ended the monopoly on power which ZANU-PF had exercised since independence in 1980.
Although Zimbabwe’s constitution as it stands makes no provision for the office of prime minister, Mr. Tsvangirai immediately asserted his new office in calling as head of the government for ZANU-PF and the MDC to cooperate to rescue Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans must reconcile past differences to move ahead.
President Mugabe confirmed that his former ruling party and the former opposition had at last found grounds for cooperation after nearly a decade of conflict.
Mr. Mugabe thanked South Africa and other African Nations involved in the long quest for a solution – and returned to a favorite theme in denouncing Britain and other Western nations he said had meddled in Zimbabwe in hopes of controlling its resources.
Mutambara reminded those present that the real work of reconstruction was just starting.
Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, on hand at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare for the signing ceremony, told reporter Blessing Zulu that the ceremony was marred by a disturbance outside between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...