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Regional Summit Proposes Zimbabwe Solution; Opposition Decision Pending

An extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community aimed at ending a power-sharing standoff in Zimbabwe concluded Tuesday morning with a resolution that the proposed national unity government should be formed and Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be sworn in as prime minister by Feb. 11.

Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported that SADC Chairman and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe told reporters all parties were in full support of this resolution - but Tsvangirai’s MDC formation registered dissent.

Sources in the Tsvangirai MDC formation told VOA that the party is deeply divided on the way forward and a position must be hammered out by its ruling national council.

Party Spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it is only normal for the top decision-making body to decide the fate of power-sharing.

President Robert Mugabe expressed hope that the latest iteration of the power-sharing deal - though not significantly different from the version offered in October by another SADC summit, and which the MDC rejected - would open a new chapter for Zimbabwe.

The latest SADC proposal, like the former, calls for the MDC and Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to share control of the Home Affairs Minister, from which the police depend.

Mr. Mugabe told reporters at Harare International Airport that he and ZANU-PF would “look at the concerns” of the MDC regarding the appointment of governors and other senior officials including ambassadors.

But Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga, less conciliatory, said Mr. Mugabe would proceed to form a government with or without Tsvangirai's participation.

Johannesburg-based political analyst David Monyae said it is not surprising that the MDC is divided over the latest proposal, as the party has long been fractured over strategy.

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