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Zimbabwe Rivals Agree to Hold Power-Sharing Talks

Zimbabwe's political crisis took a new turn Monday when President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai met for the first time in years to discuss building a power-sharing government. A regional expert discusses what the agreement may signal for the troubled country.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    For the first time in a decade, President Robert Mugabe met face to face with his political nemesis, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The two men shook hands as they signed an agreement mediators hope will lead to a power-sharing deal.

    Zimbabwe has been plagued with violence and political unrest, and teeters at the brink of economic collapse. Is today's agreement a turn of the page?

    For that, we are joined by Briggs Bomba, associate director of Campaigns for Africa Action, a human rights advocacy group. He is a citizen of Zimbabwe.

    Welcome.

    BRIGGS BOMBA, Associate Director of Campaigns, Africa Action: Thank you.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Today, both these gentlemen signed what is called a memorandum of understanding. What do we know about what is in it?

  • BRIGGS BOMBA:

    So, the point to note is that the political formations in Zimbabwe are coming from diametrically opposed positions.

    We know that over the last seven years, President Mugabe has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the opposition in Zimbabwe, as pockets of the West, who he would not sit down and negotiate with.

    And, at the same time, the opposition has also insisted that President Mugabe's presidency is illegitimate. So, to have these political parties seated on the same table and their principals putting signatures to this memorandum of understanding I think is a significant step.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Just the fact that they got to the table at all.

  • BRIGGS BOMBA:

    Just the fact that they got there and they put their signatures.

    But when looked at within the broad context of ending the political crisis in Zimbabwe, this is just a single step in a journey that is likely to be 1,000 miles. The memorandum of understanding which you ask about is really a huge laundry list of agenda items.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    It's got — it talks about sanctions, land, constitution, healing and free political activity. That's a lot that they want to negotiate in two weeks?

  • BRIGGS BOMBA:

    Yes. So, all the parties are just throwing on to the table things that they think need to be discussed. The key challenge is going to be coming to agreement on those issues and implementing that agreement.

    And the most difficult challenge is going to be agreeing on who holds the greatest power or the greatest authority in a government of national unity or in a transitional authority.

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