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Zimbabwe leaders sign power-sharing deal

[JURIST] Zimabwean president Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Monday signed a power-sharing agreement [Harare Tribune text] between their African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party websites] parties. Under the agreement, Mugabe would remain president, Tsvangirai would become prime minister and each would have two deputies. During the signing ceremony for the agreement Mugabe said [Nation report] it was important to reopen the country to outside aid, and Tsvangirai said that the agreement was the best way for the country to move forward despite the long rivalry between the two leaders. International reaction to the announcement was positive but hesitant, with the European Union saying that it would lift sanctions against the country if Zimabawe is now able to reinstate democracy and the rule of law [press release; AP report], and the US saying that it looked forward [AFP report] to seeing the details of the agreement. A Zimbabwean coalition of NGOs expressed doubt [Harare Tribune report] that the deal will effect real change in the country. AFP has more.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai had been disputing the results of the recent presidential elections [JURIST news archive], and the country has since faced enormous international criticism [JURIST report] for rights violations that occurred during the elections. Tsvangirai had taking refuge [JURIST report] at the Dutch embassy in Harare and the MDC had estimated that at least 65 of its members have been killed [BBC report] since the first election in March. Human rights groups suggested that state-sponsored violence would only increase as the second presidential vote drew closer, and in the past few weeks the amount of election-related violence has increased, including the beating [ABC News report], torture [National Post report], and killing [NYT report] of MDC supporters throughout Zimbabwe. In June, Mugabe's government expelled a UN human rights observer [JURIST news report]. Earlier that month, government forces stopped and detained US and UK diplomats [JURIST report], threatening them and beating one of their drivers.

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