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Zimbabwe opposition to attend swearing in of new MPs

NAIROBI, August 21- Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change said Thursday it will attend the swearing in of new MPs next week but opposes the convening of parliament.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said any parliamentary session would be "a violation, repudiation of some of the conditions on the Memorandum of Understanding" signed with President Robert Mugabe last month on power sharing talks.

"President Mugabe would not proceed to do anything unilaterally. Any step that we take has to be by consensus," he told reporters in Nairobi, where he came to seek advice on the workings of a power-sharing government.

"We are going to parliament to defend our mandate. Our problem is with the convening of parliament not the swearing in of members," MDC secretary general Tendai Biti also said earlier.

The MDC had said it had not consented to the reconvening of parliament after controversial elections, claiming it could endanger talks to resolve the country’s devastating political crisis.

Tsvangirai held talks with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga who in February signed a power-sharing agreement with President Mwai Kibaki to end a deadly post election violence that killed some 1,500 people.

Tsvangirai called for a share of executive authority with Mugabe in a final coalition government agreement.

"We want cooperation and sharing of power not sharing of positions, but sharing of power. Executive authority shared between the president’s office and the prime minister’s office," he said.

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The MDC chief said the talks adjourned last week were stuck on the roles of the envisioned prime minister’s post and the president.

"There is one stumbling issue that we have been grappling with which is the framework (of) powers and roles of president and the new position of prime minister for the duration of transition leading up to two and a half years.

"That has been the crux and fundamental basis of this agreement. That’s why I think the Kenyan experience becomes very important lesson to learn from."

Under the Kenyan peace agreement, the prime minister — who has two deputies — supervises the functions and affairs of the government while the president retains executive powers.

Violence in Kenya erupted after last year’s December’s 27 presidential election, which then opposition candidate and pre-poll frontrunner Odinga said were rigged by Kibaki.

The dispute ignited a wave of protests which were fiercely put down by police and soon led to ethnically-driven clashes and a cycle of revenge killings, mainly in Nairobi and the western Rift Valley region.

Former UN chief Kofi Annan led an internationally-backed mediation that eventually yielded a power-sharing agreement.

It is unclear when the talks to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis sparked by the lengthy delay in announcing the results of the initial March 29 vote as well as the MDC’s boycott of the second round vote.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s party suffered a historic defeat in legislative elections in March. The veteran leader was re-elected in a June one-man presidential run-off boycotted by Tsvangirai, who had defeated him in the first round.

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