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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Stalling On Power-Sharing - US Ambassador

With Zimbabwe's power-sharing process still deadlocked Thursday despite three days of follow-through mediation by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, U.S. Ambassador James McGee offered a bleak assessment of the dynamics of the uneasy relationship between the partners in the proposed unity government.

McGee told a foreign policy audience at Freedom House in Washington that President Robert Mugabe and hardliners in his longtime ruling ZANU-PF party are stalling on the implementation of the power-sharing agreement signed on Sept. 15 and would continue to do so.

McGee described that agreement as "highly imperfect," as Mr. Mugabe and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai, founder of the Movement for Democratic Change which emerged from opposition to majority in parliament in March elections, "will have what appear to be equivalent powers," so it is unclear how government policies will be set.

"We can expect continued absence of good will from President Mugabe and his allies as they attempt to cling to power and continue to enrich themselves," McGee said.

But, "Despite this gloomy picture, there are reasons to believe, as Tsvangirai himself has stated, that Zimbabwe is on a path of inevitable transition."

Among these: the March elections that gave the MDC a majority in parliament's lower house, Tsvangirai's plurality in the March presidential election (Mr. Mugabe running unopposed won a June run-off); and what McGee said is mounting frustration among African leaders with "the obstructionist behavior of Mugabe and ZANU-PF," and fractures within ZANU-PF.

McGee said the U.S. government will maintain its targeted sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and "individuals and organizations that undermine democratic processes and institutions."

He pledged that the American government will continue to provide food and other humanitarian assistance including support of the health care system, now running at $186 million a year.

But McGee said development assistance of the kind needed to rebuild the economy will not be provided without "concrete evidence of lasting political and economic reform."

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