Hecklers disrupt Mugabe speech

Zimbabwean parliamentarians from main opposition party drown out Mugabe's opening speech.

Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters cheering their deputies on August 26, 2008 during the opening of 7th parliament of Zimbabwe, which is dominated by the opposition. Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe was heckled by the opposition as he opened parliament and declared that "landmark agreements" were expected to be signed by the country's political rivals.
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HARARE // The Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, opened parliament in defiance of opposition objections today and said there was "every expectation" of a power-sharing deal to end a post-election political crisis. But heckling by parliamentarians from the main opposition party drowned out Mr Mugabe's speech, underscoring the bitterness of the divide. "Landmark agreements have been concluded, with every expectation that everyone will sign up," said Mr Mugabe, 84, who has ruled Zimbabwe with his ZANU-PF party since independence from Britain in 1980. But parliamentarians from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change chanted "ZANU is rotten" and "We have a pact with the people." The MDC said Mr Mugabe had no right to open the chamber and warned that the move would endanger the deadlocked negotiations. But the party's parliamentarians nonetheless attended the opening of parliament, backing the MDC official who was elected to the powerful speaker position yesterday. ZANU-PF also holds a key post as head of the Senate, intensifying a power struggle as the two parties come under mounting pressure to reach a breakthrough that could allow them to deal with Zimbabwe's growing economic catastrophe. ZANU-PF won a vote for the presidency of the upper house of parliament, the Senate - where it has a majority - meaning it can block legislation passed by parliament. Negotiations between ZANU-PF and the MDC have stalled over what the opposition says is mr Mugabe's refusal to give up executive power after 28 years in office. *Reuters