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ZIMBABWE: Memorandum of understanding signed by rivals

HARARE, 21 July 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, signed a memorandum of understanding in the capital Harare today, paving the way for talks to resolve the country's political impasse.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, appointed last year by the Southern African Development Community to mediate in the crisis, presided over the ceremony at a Harare hotel. The memorandum "commits the negotiating parties to an intense programme of work to try and finalise the negotiations as quickly as possible," Mbeki reportedly said.

The memorandum imposed a 14-day timeframe on negotiating a solution between the ruling ZANU-PF party and both wings of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The signatories stayed behind after the signing to continue with the talks.

The document called for the parties to put and end to their "divisions" and "conflicts", which have characterised Zimbabwean politics in the recent past.

The general elections on 29 March, in which the ZANU-PF party lost its majority in parliament for the first time since independence in 1980, and Mugabe came off second best in the presidential poll, was followed by a run-off presidential ballot on 27 June.

Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off election in protest against the political violence that the MDC claim has killed more than 100 people to date, and led to thousands more being displaced.

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Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Governance

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Copyright © IRIN 2008
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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