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Zimbabwe Cabinet Formation Urgent To Prevent Food Disaster - Tsvangirai

Zimbabwean prime minister-designate leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned on Saturday that the country could face a famine in months if President Robert Mugabe does not promptly name a cabinet under the power-sharing agreement signed Sept. 15 to take urgent action.

Tsvangirai, founder of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change party whose two formations now control the lower house of parliament, said the govenrment must seek donor assistance to feed 5.5 million Zimbabweans by early 2009.

Action by the proposed unity government is urgent so "our people have food and do not die of starvation," Tsvangirai told journalists. It was his first major public statement since efforts to name a cabinet pursuant to the power-sharing deal bogged down last week.

President Mugabe told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that he and his long-time ruling ZANU-PF party would respect the spirit and letter of the compact - but some observers say the power-sharing deal, less than two weeks old, is already in trouble.

But Tsvangirai expressed optimism, saying the differences are surmountable.

Zimbabwe has been without an official government for months following disputed presidential elections. Tsvangirai won the most votes in the March 29 first round, but pulled out of the June 27 runoff because of state-sponsored violence against his supporters.

Zimbabwe's economy has continued to crumble, with inflation last officially measured at some 11 million percent - though economists say it is probably over 40 million percent by now - and food shortages widespread following a failed harvest.

Correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported on Tsvangirai's appeal for formation of a government that can urgently take action to avert disaster.

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