Zimbabwe parliament passes unity government law
Zimbabwe's parliament passed a constitutional bill to allow a coalition government of President Mugabe and opposition rivals.
Zimbabwe's parliament passed a constitutional bill on Thursday to allow a coalition government of President Robert Mugabe and opposition rivals, being set up under a deal to end political and economic crisis.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed last week to join a unity government with Mugabe's ZANU-PF after months of wrangling over ministerial posts had stalled a power-sharing deal signed last year. The vote on Wednesday was the first concrete step by the two parties to meet a deadline set by leaders from the Southern Africa Development Community for a unity government to be in place by Feb. 13.
Parliamentary Speaker Lovemore Moyo said 184 lawmakers in the 210-seat parliament had voted for the bill, easily surpassing the two-thirds needed. Tsvangirai's party has 100 seats to 99 for ZANU-PF.
The vote was greeted with jubilation and stomping of feet by legislators from both parties in a rare show of unity.
When he introduced the bill, Mugabe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa described the establishment of a unity government as "a leap of faith". MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said there was no choice.
The bill will now be taken to the Senate where it is expected to sail through before being signed into law by Mugabe.
Tsvangirai will become prime minister in the envisaged unity government. Mugabe will remain president. He was re-elected last June in a run-off vote which the opposition boycotted citing attacks on its supporters.
Once a prosperous country, Zimbabwe's economy is in ruins, with half the population in need of food aid. Official inflation, last recorded in mid-2008, had soared to 231 million percent and the United Nations says unemployment is 94 percent.
Now the southern African country is saddled with the continent's deadliest cholera epidemic in 15 years, which has infected 65,739 people, killing 3,323.
Reuters Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2009, 17:26