The problem with Craig is that he doubles up as an MDC activist and journalist at the same time. What rot!!! Intentionally misleading his readership in support of the Puppet party!
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 4, 2008; Page A17
HARARE, Zimbabwe, Feb. 3 -- Reunification talks between leaders of Zimbabwe's fractured opposition collapsed Sunday, giving the ruling party of President Robert Mugabe a powerful boost heading into elections next month.
The two opposition factions, which both claim the name Movement for Democratic Change, immediately announced plans to run separate candidates for the country's major offices, splitting the anti-government vote and weakening their chances of ending Mugabe's 28-year rule of a country now in steep economic decline.
The development undid months of intense negotiations aimed at healing a rift that opened in 2005, shortly after the last national vote, over the leadership style of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's most prominent opposition leader.
Both sides had agreed to run on a single ticket headed by Tsvangirai. But in meetings over the past two days, the factions could not agree on how to select candidates for parliamentary seats. In the face of renewed stalemate, both sides renounced all previous agreements.
"Everything was done," said Gabriel Chaibva, spokesman for the faction led by Arthur Mutambara, Tsvangirai's leading rival.
Chaibva acknowledged that a divided opposition would find it hard to mount a credible challenge to Mugabe. "This is the tragedy. Obviously, united we stand, divided we fall," he said.
The presidential vote scheduled for March 29 will now pit Mugabe against Tsvangirai and Mutambara. Mugabe's ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, won elections against a unified opposition in 2000, 2002 and 2005 amid widespread allegations of irregularities. The opposition has said Mugabe rigged those votes.
But the Movement for Democratic Change has weakened in recent years and consistently failed to mount major protests.
Tsvangirai said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that he did everything possible to bring the sides together. "If there is anyone who took the high road to bring this agreement together, it is me," he said.
Of the continued division, he added: "It is regrettable. It is unfortunate. But that is the reality."
The day's events also seemed to mark the final unraveling of talks led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was dispatched by southern African leaders to mediate the long-standing political stalemate in Zimbabwe after police brutalized Tsvangirai and dozens of opposition activists last March.
Mbeki had made what appeared to be considerable progress, meeting with Mugabe's deputies and leaders of both opposition factions. Together, they had agreed to a transitional constitution incorporating significant new rights. The talks also led to a relaxation of laws restricting political activity and newsgathering.
But Mugabe rejected opposition demands to either implement the constitution, with its new freedoms, ahead of the elections or delay the vote beyond March. By setting an election date of March 29, Mugabe gave the opposition little time to overcome its daunting internal divisions. Parties must submit their lists of candidates by Friday.