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Zimbabwe prime minister rejects president's appointees

By the CNN Wire Staff
The spat is the latest of many disagreements that have characterized the coalition Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed last year.
The spat is the latest of many disagreements that have characterized the coalition Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed last year.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tsvangirai rejects appointments of ministers, diplomats and others
  • "We must make a stand to protect the Constitution of Zimbabwe," he says
  • Mugabe has no immediate response

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Zimbabwe's prime minister said Thursday he will not recognize President Robert Mugabe's appointments for attorney general and other positions, setting off a potential constitutional crisis.

The appointments rejected by Morgan Tsvangirai include 10 ministers, six diplomats, five judges, the police chief and the governor of the central bank.

A visibly angry Tsvangirai said he "has today resolved that we must make a stand to protect the Constitution of Zimbabwe and to return it to the custodianship of the citizens of Zimbabwe. As a first step, we will refuse to recognise any of the appointments which the president has made illegally and unconstitutionally over the past 18 months."

His statement came after a four-hour meeting with other leaders of his MDC party.

This is the latest of the many disagreements that have characterized the coalition Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed last year.

"Zimbabweans will know that I have desperately tried to avoid a constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe," Tsvangirai said. "I have worked tirelessly to try to make this transitional government work, in the interest of all Zimbabweans. I have worked and spoken in support of this government.

"But neither I, nor the MDC, can stand back any longer and just allow Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF to defy the law, to flaunt the Constitution and to act as if they own this country."

ZANU-PF is Mugabe's party.

Among other points of disputeis Mugabe's refusal to appoint Tsvangirai's nominees into senior posts of the coalition government, saying he would do so only after the West lifts targeted sanctions.

"This is rank madness and utterly nonsensical," Tsvangirai said of Mugabe's position on targeted sanctions.

"All Zimbabweans know that Mr. Mugabe and his colleagues brought the restrictive measures on themselves through the flagrant abuses of human rights and the economic disaster which they inflicted on this country," he said. "All Zimbabweans know that these restrictive measures are the result, not the cause of that economic disaster. They know that these restrictive measures affect the individuals concerned, not the country as a whole, as the economic turnaround since my party joined the government has shown.

"Nevertheless, I undertook to work with ZANU-PF toward the lifting of restrictive measures, and I have abided by that promise. At every turn, I have reminded Mr. Mugabe and his colleagues that my commitment to do so is part of my commitment to abide by and to implement the GPA," or Global Political Agreement.

There was no immediate response from Mugabe. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a Mugabe appointee, said only that the president would comment on the matter.

 
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