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Page last updated at 13:55 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

Zimbabwe government 'next month'

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare on 23 December
Robert Mugabe usually spends his holiday in the Far East

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe will probably form a new government next month after he returns from a month-long holiday, according to state media.

Mr Mugabe usually spends his leave in the Far East, but he would only spend a small part of his vacation outside Zimbabwe this year, his spokesman said.

Mr Mugabe last week sacked nine ministers and three deputy ministers who lost seats in last March's polls.

He has agreed to share power with the opposition but this has not happened.

Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been unable to agree on how to divide cabinet posts.

'Games'

"A government was most likely to be in place by the end of February," said the Herald, widely seen as a government mouthpiece.

The delay would include time for parliament to approve a constitutional amendment to implement the power-sharing deal, as well as for the 84-year-old's holiday, it added.

Morgan Tsvangirai in Botswana on 19 December 2009
Morgan Tsvangirai is said to be in South Africa this week

Presidential spokesman George Charamba said Mr Mugabe would continue to work a proposals for a ministerial list during his leave.

An unnamed source told the paper: "The president has had enough of games from the opposition."

Mr Tsvangirai refuses to take the post of prime minister unless the MDC is given the post of home affairs minister, which controls the police.

He, along with western nations, accuses Mr Mugabe of not being sincere about power-sharing, pointing to continued abductions of opposition officials and human rights activists, as well as the impasse over ministerial posts.

The Herald added that Mr Mugabe on Saturday met Arthur Mutambara, who leads a breakaway faction of the MDC, but the newspaper did not give details of their talks.

Meanwhile Mr Tsvangirai, who left Zimbabwe on 9 November, is in South Africa this week on a "diplomatic mission", according to MDC officials.

He was given a passport on Christmas Day, after complaining for many months that officials were refusing to give him travel documents.

Under the power-sharing deal, Mr Mugabe is supposed to remain president and Mr Tsvangirai become prime minister.

The MDC leader narrowly won the first round of presidential elections last March but refused to take part in a June run-off, accusing Zanu-PF of orchestrating violence against his supporters.

UN figures on Sunday said 1,671 people have now died in an outbreak of cholera blamed on the collapse of Zimbabwe's sanitation system and a lack of clean water.

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