ZIM DEAL ON NEW CABINET

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition will get more cabinet posts than President Robert Mugabe's party in the envisaged unity government, state radio reported yesterday.

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition will get more cabinet posts than President Robert Mugabe's party in the envisaged unity government, state radio reported yesterday.

It said the cabinet under a power-sharing deal brokered by President Thabo Mbeki will have 31 members - 16 from the opposition and 15 from Mugabe's party.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition have begun discussing the appointments before the ceremonial signing today of a deal reached after weeks of negotiations, the report said.

Under a media blackout on the talks no details were immediately available on cabinet appointments, but the opposition has demanded control of the police while agreeing to Mugabe retaining control of the military.

Both the police and military have been blamed for stateorchestrated violence and torture of Mugabe's opponents.

Zanu-PF, the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the smaller faction of Arthur Mutambara met in Harare on Saturday to discuss cabinet appointments before a meeting of Mugabe's politburo, the radio said.

The 30-member politburo "endorsed" the power-sharing agreement that was announced on Thursday, the radio said.

David Coltart, an opposition legislator, said the first task was for parliament to pass a constitutional amendment forming a new power-sharing government enabling the administration to start work.

The new government will keep Mugabe as president with greatly reduced powers, along with two ceremonial vice presidents drawn from Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai becomes prime minister with two opposition deputies, Coltart said.

"Though Tsvangirai does not have absolute power, he does have substantial power," he said. "This is historic but we still have a long and treacherous road to travel."

Virtually all cabinet ministers to be appointed by the opposition "have at some stage in the last nine years been brutalised on the instructions of those they will now have to work with," said Coltart.

Mugabe is to chair the cabinet, with Tsvangirai as vice-chair. But the opposition leader will head a council of ministers that will supervise the work of the cabinet, Coltart said. - Sapa-AP

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