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Dominant Zimbabwe Opposition Formation Rejects Proposed Government

A top official of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by party founder and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai said the grouping will not participate in the unity government which Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says he is about to form along lines proposed by a recent summit of the Southern African Development Community.

Secretary General Tendai Biti said the party will adhere to the position Tsvangirai laid out on Sunday at the conclusion of the SADC summit in Johannesburg - that sharing control of the key Home Affairs Ministry with Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF is unacceptable.

The ministry controls the Zimbabwe Republic Police, deeply implicated in the wave of political violence which followed presidential, general and local elections in March in which the MDC scored wide gains and in which Tsvangirai received a plurality of presidential votes.

ZANU-PF's politburo on Wednesday urged Mr. Mugabe to quickly name a new cabinet.

But party insiders reported deep divisions in ZANU-PF. Moderates are urging Mr. Mugabe to consider other options before forming such a government. They argue that an economic collapse is imminent if Mr Mugabe adopts what they call "Lone Ranger tactics."

Such a move would likely bring stepped up Western financial and travel sanctions against Mr. Mugabe, his inner circle, key members of the military and security establishment, the central bank governor and leading figures in Zimbabwean state media organizations.

Such ZANU-PF moderates said he should first invite both formations of the MDC - the other is led by Arthur Mutambara - to submit names for the cabinet positions allocated to them, and if they refuse, to advise SADC before unilaterally forming a new government.

Biti told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his party has received no formal communications from ZANU-PF, effectively still the ruling party though the MDC's two formations control the lower house of parliament, but in any case will not join the government under the SADC-recommended arrangement of sharing control of Home Affairs.

But Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said it is premature to rule out MDC involvement.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera said in an interview from Harare that the divisions within ZANU-PF are to be expected, as the nation now finds itself at a crossroads.

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