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Zimbabwe stand-off between Mugabe and opposition getting worse

For many months now, there has been a major stand-off between the ruling party in Zimbabwe headed by President Mugabe, and the opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai. The dispute started after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claimed victory in the elections, and the ruling Zanu-PF of President Mugabe refused to admit defeat. And then, in the Presidential run-off elections, Morgan Tsvangirai backed down claiming systematic violence by the ruling party (the fact that the ruling party was using planned violence and attacks was pretty clear by that point).
In the meantime, the country was rapidly going downhill. Inflation was ballooning, with inflation levels in the millions of percentages, and people having a hard time making ends meet. The country was collapsing economically, and Morgan Tsvangirai seemed like a breath of fresh blood who could change things (if he was allowed to take power). Finally, there was a compromise and it was decided that there would be sharing of portfolios; however, it was too soon to declare the problems over. The portfolio sharing has become the sticking point, with control of the Home portfolio (responsible for the police and security services) being a major contention point:

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party says it is preparing to face a government crackdown after it yesterday rejected a South African-backed proposal to share the ministry that commands the country’s police force and controls its electoral machinery. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change and prime minister-designate, rejected the idea of sharing the home affairs portfolio with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF as unworkable. “They [Zanu-PF] are on the warpath,” said an MDC spokesman in Harare, who said that party leaders would meet later this week. “Now we have rejected the carrot, the next thing will be a very, very huge stick.”
The MDC won elections in March but then withdrew from presidential polls, citing violence against its supporters. In a recent report Amnesty International, the human rights group, said 180 people had been killed and 9,000 injured since March, blaming the security forces, Zanu-PF and pro-Mugabe veterans for most violence. Mr Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders have been concerned that failure to secure control of either the police force or the army would make it impossible to agree a wider division of power. According to The Herald, a pro-government newspaper, Zanu-PF was reluctant to hand control of the police to the MDC because it alleged the opposition party was training anti-government militias.

In the end, it comes down to whoever has control of the police and security agencies having the upper hand, and once can be sure that President Robert Mugabe will do what he can do to retain control of these agencies.

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