31 Jan 2009

Opposition to join Zimbabwe government

6:21 am on 31 January 2009

Zimbabwe's opposition is to join a government with President Robert Mugabe next month, ending a political deadlock over power-sharing.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced the decision on Friday after a meeting of the national council of the Movement for Democratic Change. He is to become prime minister.

Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal in September, but implementation was held up by disagreements over who would get top cabinet positions.

Under pressure from regional leaders, Mr Tsvangirai agreed at a summit meeting this week to share control of the Home Affairs ministry - which is responsible for the police - with Mr Mugabe's ZANU-PF for six months.

The government is due to be formed by 11 February.

Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Mr Tsvangirai won the most votes in a presidential election last March but not enough votes to avoid a run-off. He pulled out of the second round, citing attacks and Mr Mugabe was declared the winner unopposed.

Zimbabwe is in crisis: the last official figure for inflation was 231 million percent, but that was last July. Prices have been doubling every day recently and the government announced on Thursday it would let Zimbabweans use foreign currencies.