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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Convenes Rump Cabinet As PM Tsvangirai Lobbies Region

Disregarding Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s “disengagement” from his ZANU-PF governing partners, President Robert Mugabe Tuesday chaired a Cabinet meeting minus ministers from Mr. Tsvangirai’s formation of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Ministers of the rival MDC formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara took part in the Cabinet session - according to Mutambara to restrain ZANU-PF's actions.

While Mr. Mugabe was meeting with the truncated cabinet, Tsvangirai MDC ministers held their own caucus chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Thokozane Khupe, sources said.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba told the pro-ZANU-PF state-run Herald newspaper that such weekly Cabinet meetings would continue. He said Mr. Tsvangirai's suspension of cooperation with ZANU-PF would not be recognized without formal notice.

Minister of State Didymus Mutasa, attached to the office of the president, told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that the MDC disengagement won’t change anything.

Mutambara MDC spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa says his party attended the cabinet meeting to defend the democratic space which has opened under the unity government.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Tuesday's cabinet meeting was irrelevant in the absence of ministers from the formation.

In Mozambique, Mr Tsvangirai was to open a regional diplomatic initiative in a meeting with President Armando Guebuza and Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao of the Southern African Development Community to brief them on the crisis in the unity government.

Mozambique chairs the SADC Troika on Defense and Security.

Mr. Tsvangirai, whose formation broke off contact with ZANU-PF over the indictment and brief jailing of MDC Senator Roy Bennett, designated deputy agriculture minister in February but never sworn in by President Mugabe, left Harare Monday for a round of consultations with the regional leaders who guaranteed the 2008 global political agreement.

Mozambique chairs the SADC Troika on Defense and Security.

Mr. Tsvangirai also plans to meet Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, now SADC chairman, and Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos

Salamao told VOA that Tuesdays meeting was called at the request of Mr Tsvangirai and that SADC officials have yet to engage Mr. Mugabe or Mr. Mutambara.

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