Mugabe ploughs ahead with cabinet

Zimbabwe's opposition leaders accused President Robert Mugabe yesterday of abandoning talks aimed at forming a unity government, saying he would fail if he tried to rule alone.

The Movement for Democratic Change described Mugabe's intention to form a cabinet regardless of the opposition as "a declaration of war against the people". After the state opening of parliament on Tuesday, at which opposition jeers drowned out his speech, Mr Mugabe was quoted by the government newspaper, The Herald, as saying: "We shall soon be setting up a government. The MDC does not want to come in, apparently."

"This time they have been promised by the British that sanctions would be more devastating, that in six months' time the government will collapse. I do not know when that day will come."

His comments drew an angry response from the opposition. Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman, said it remained committed to power-sharing talks but accused the President of "giving a death certificate to the talks and negotiations".

"The bottom line is he has to come to the negotiating table and negotiate with the MDC as representatives of the people," he said.