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Zimbabwe's power-sharing pact: Can rivals make it work?

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Among Zimbabweans both inside the country and in exile, reaction to the deal has been one of exhausted relief rather than jubilation. Some of the estimated 3 million Zimbabwean refugees living in South Africa may begin to return to their country, now that the political crisis has ended, but others will remember the campaign of terror used by Mugabe and his supporters against the very opposition figures that they will now have to work with, side by side.

Zimbabwe's economy – with an inflation rate of 11 million percent – is in tatters. It may take years before Zimbabweans want to return to their country.

But the fact that a deal has been struck could give space for longer-term solutions to be found and for aid organizations to begin the process of reconstructing a country that went from breadbasket to basket case in the last decade.

Under the deal, Mugabe would remain president of the country, chairman of the cabinet of ministers, and commander in chief of the armed forces and the intelligence services. Tsvangirai would become executive prime minister and chair of a supervisory council that watches over the cabinet.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party would have 15 cabinet seats, Tsvangirai's MDC would have 13, and a split-away MDC faction would have three seats.

Under the deal Mugabe will still have the authority to "grant pardons, respites, substitute less-severe punishment, and suspend or remit sentences, on the advice of Cabinet."

He also can, subject to the Constitution, "declare war and make peace."

The deal comes after a tumultuous two-part election in March, where Tsvangirai's party won the largest number of seats in parliament, but where Tsvangirai himself fell short of the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff election against Mugabe for the presidency.

Mugabe won a second round of the election, after Tsvangirai pulled out of the race, pointing to the use of violence by police and militias against his supporters.

That context raises concerns, for some observers, about the durability of this agreement.

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