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Can Mutambara save Zimbabwe's power-sharing government?

Zimbabwe's Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara portrayed himself as a mediator while decrying the obstinance of President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Arthur Mutambara speaks during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China, Sept. 11, 2009.

Elizabeth Dalziel/AP

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For the second week running, President Robert Mugabe's coalition partners – the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – have boycotted cabinet meetings. It's the latest sign that the country's fragile power-sharing agreement could collapse.

But this doesn't mean that Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has the government all to itself. Arthur Mutambara, the country's deputy prime minister and leader of a smaller faction of the MDC, and other members of his party attended cabinet meetings this week in a bid to hold the so-called Government of National Unity together.

Mr. Mutambara this week portrayed himself as a mediator, while heaping criticism on both Mugabe and his own fellow opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, for their obstinance.

"Tsvangirai should not have [disengaged from the unity government] since we need to fight Mugabe from within," Mutambara told reporters on Sunday. As for Mugabe, Mutambara said, "If the [coalition government] collapses, we are telling Mugabe that he will be like a rebel leader and not president of the country. I have told him to shape up or ship out and I am still maintaining that."

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