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July 27, 2008

An Agreement Between Mugabe and Tsvangirai

A surprise development in Zimbabwe may stop the political violence that has marred the country over the past few months. Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has signed an agreement with his bitter rival Morgan Tsvangirai. The deal was reached on Monday and it could be the key component to ending some of the rifts in the country.

It is also good that Zimbabwe found a way to navigate this process without interference from outside sources. Mugabe has been insistent that no outside help be given except for South Africa. That is fine as long as some type of agreement is met.

This agreement did not seem possible just weeks ago when Mugabe essentially stole the presidential election. However, it seems that with the pressure of other African nations and the denouncement of countries around the world, Mugabe has bended a bit. Of course he would never admit that his agreement to talks with his arch rival is due in part because he was so condemned by so many different people.

The South African president Thabo Mbeki appeared in a press conference with Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Apparently Mbeki will help bridge the two sides together. If Zimbabwe comes to terms with a joint government between the two positive changes may be made. This would surely bring the supporters of the two sides to a truce if nothing else, I believe.

Zimbabwe has been struggling with high inflation and a lack of jobs and finances over the years. If the world sees that Mugabe is willing to negotiate, perhaps more opportunities and wealth will come to the nation. The two reluctantly shock hands after the meeting after Mbeki prompted them to do so. It is not perfect but it is a good start. The first step was to get the two sides together. Now that they are at least on speaking terms some healthy progress may be made.

Mbeki has been criticized by many people for not taking any action while Mugabe, who got fewer votes than Tsvangirai in the first election, took office. Even though Mbeki remained silent far too long, it is a good thing that he finally stepped up to the plate.

Mugabe seemed completely against any types of negotiations with the opposition. To hear that he has signed an agreement to start talks is quite remarkable. There is a rumored “softening of the ground” between the two sides. Tsvangirai is no longer hiding out at an embassy. He remained positive even while he was staying at the embassy and spoke with a steady, cautious optimism. Perhaps he was right after all. Maybe this election, even with all of the trouble that has surrounded it, was a great thing for Zimbabwe. Maybe it had to be this disruptive to start the changes to following.

Over the next few months it will be interesting to see where these talks go. Hopefully the gap between the two rivals will begin to close. Perhaps between the two of them solutions can be reached. Maybe the two can help turn Zimbabwe around.

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