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Passport-Less Tsvangirai Mulls Boycott Of Regional Mediation In Zimbabwe

Political officials of the Southern African Development Community have rescheduled for next Monday, Oct. 27, discussions aimed at ending the impasse in Zimbabwe’s political power-sharing process and moved the venue to Harare - but the opposition Movement for Democratic Change said it could not commit to taking part in the mini-summit.

The talks had been called for Monday in Swaziland, but Zimbabwean prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change was unable to travel to Mbabane because he has not received a passport from the Harare government of President Robert Mugabe and the travel documents he was given were said to be deficient.

Now the rescheduled talks in Harare are in doubt because Tsvangirai’s MDC formation has refused to commit itself to taking part until and unless the ZANU-PF administration of President Robert Mugabe provides him with a passport.

Mr. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and rival MDC leader Arthur Mutambara on Sept. 15 signed an accord providing for the sharing of power within a national unity government, seemingly ending months of turmoil following general and presidential elections in March, which opened months of often deadly political violence in the approach to a June presidential run-off ballot.

Mr. Mugabe ultimately ran without opposition in that second-round election, drawing a chorus of condemnation from African leaders as well as Western governments and institutions which characterized the election as a sham and his presidency as illegitimate.

Since the Sept. 15 signature of the power-sharing agreement, the formation of a government has been delayed by the inability of the parties to the compact to agree on the allocation of key cabinet positions, in particular the Finance and Home Affairs portfolios.

The state-run Herald newspaper on Tuesday quoted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying Tsvangirai's “failure to come to Swaziland seems to us to reflect his own reluctance or hesitancy to finalize and conclude discussions on the formation of an inclusive government.”

But the MDC in a statement charged that ZANU-PF was in fact the party to the agreement that was stalling power-sharing. The Tsvangirai MDC formation warned that Harare’s failure to issue Tsvangirai a passport “puts the entire political agreement in jeopardy.”

It said Tsvangirai is in effect being held prisoner and prisoners do not negotiate.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that despite of the latest setback to the power-sharing process, the MDC is committed to forming the unity government envisioned in the accord.

South African-based political analyst David Monyae told reporter Zulu that the passport row reflects fundamental mistrust between ZANU-PF and the MDC.

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