Zimbabwe - Mugabe praises coalition government with rivals


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe praised the coalition pact that has seen him share power with his political enemies, saying in an interview on Monday that he and long-time foe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai can now share a cup of tea.
Mugabe, who turns 88 on Tuesday, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, but has shared power with Tsvangirai's rival Movement for Democratic Change since 2009 under a coalition after violent and disputed elections.

Despite the agreement, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have continued to fight over government posts and policy, including Mugabe's drive to seize foreign-owned companies, which the MDC says will ruin the economy.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the MDC are also quarreling over a new constitution, which seeks to limit presidential powers and presidential terms to 10 years and which Mugabe says is meant to stop him from running in the next election.
He has repeatedly criticised senior MDC officials in public.
Nevertheless he sounded an unusually conciliatory note in Monday's television interview.
The coalition "has enabled us to work together and perhaps cease to see each other as enemies," Mugabe said. "Must we hate each other because we are of different parties? No, we might oppose each other .... but must we unleash violence against each other? No we must not."
Mugabe said he had a good working relationship with Tsvangirai, and the two could now share a cup of tea during meetings.
Mugabe, who looked jovial in a gray suite, blue shirt and cherry-red tie, dismissed media reports that he often clashed with Tsvangirai in person, saying he only read this in privately-owned newspapers.
But the veteran leader also accused the MDC of supporting Western sanctions such as measures against senior members of his party and his family.
"If you are for the people why should you be for the people by supporting sanctions against us. This is what we don't understand with our colleagues in the MDC," Mugabe said.
The European Union last week maintained sanctions on Zimbabwe but removed a third of the people from its list of those affected by asset freezes and visa bans.
An arms embargo remained in place and a freeze in development aid will be extended for another six months.
Mugabe also said the Western sanctions had prevented Zimbabwe from freely selling diamonds from its Marange diamond fields, where human rights groups have accused the army of rights violations in the past.
On Saturday Mugabe's party will host a huge birthday celebration at a stadium in Mutare, an eastern border city 270 km east of the capital Harare.
Mugabe, who has been reported by local media to be suffering from prostate cancer, which he denies, said he stayed fit by constantly exercising and staying away from alcohol and smoking.

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