Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 13:42 UK

Mugabe rival fears talks collapse

Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai said Kenya had lessons for Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has warned that power-sharing talks may collapse if parliament is convened.

It was announced earlier this week that MPs would be sworn in next Monday, with President Robert Mugabe to open the first session the following day.

Mr Tsvangirai said this would repudiate the agreement governing the talks.

He made the comments on a visit to Kenya to find out about the country's experience of power-sharing.

A grand coalition was formed in the East African country earlier this year after violent post-poll clashes.

So far, Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party have failed to reach a deal to resolve Zimbabwe's post-election crisis.

Leaders from the Southern African Development Community failed to help them end a deadlock at their summit in Johannesburg over the weekend.

'Theory and practice'

"If President Mugabe proceeds to convene parliament, appoint a new cabinet, it means that... he may have abandoned the basis for the talks," Mr Tsvangirai said in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

It managed to allay some of our fears, but strengthened some of our positions
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai

He said that talks mediator South African President Thabo Mbeki would have to deal with any violation of the negotiations' Memorandum of Understanding.

All decisions have to be made by consensus and not unilaterally, he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said he was in Kenya to learn about how the coalition government was working out.

Earlier, he held talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga

"There are a number of lessons. The other important thing is to distinguish between theory and practice... What happens in government when you are actually in the position is different from what you have signed," Mr Tsvangirai said.

"It has been very valuable to learn how this cohabitation has worked out. It managed to allay some of our fears, but strengthened some of our positions."

'No junior partners'

Mr Tsvangirai said that while there had been progress at the talks, the balance of power between the president and the prime minister was still a stumbling block.

House of Assembly
* MDC Tsvangirai: 100
* Zanu-PF: 99
* MDC Mutambara: 10
* Independent: 1
* Zanu-PF: 30
* MDC Tsvangirai: 24
* MDC Mutambara: 6

If the office of a prime minister was created in Zimbabwe, it must have executive responsibility and authority to run government, Mr Tsvangirai said.

"We view a situation in which the president and prime minister have shared responsibility, not necessarily one becoming a junior partner to the other," he said.

He referred to the historical precedent when late nationalist leader Joshua Nkomo entered into a power-sharing agreement with Zanu-PF and "ended up losing his own party".

"We don't want co-optation, we want co-operation and sharing of power," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai won the first presidential round in March, before pulling out of a June run-off citing a campaign of violence against his supporters.

Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since 1980 - taking 99 seats to the MDC's 100 in the House of Assembly.

But both parties will rely on the backing of an MDC breakaway faction led by Arthur Mutambara, which has 10 seats, to preserve a majority in the lower house.

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