Zimbabwe Church Leaders Appeal for Gov't Unity

Zimbabwe church leaders have issued a statement urging officials to preserve the country's fragile power-sharing government, which has been left in limbo since Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai broke ties with President Robert Mugabe over disagreement on key issues.

The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, a group that includes Roman Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, said earlier this week that they received news of the power-sharing government's fallout with "concern."

"To us, this may indicate the first step towards the disintegration and failure of the inclusive government," the group said. "We are concerned that the collapse of the inclusive government may lead to widespread violence in the country which will have a negative impact on the region."

Zimbabwe's power-sharing government has been unstable since its formation in February, failing to reach compromise on key issues including the sharing of executive power, appointment of officials, and the pace of government reform in the country. Conflict deepened recently with Mugabe threatening to replace cabinet officials from Tsvangarai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party with his own ministers.

"We, as representatives of the Christian community still pray and hope that the agreement can be retrieved and made to work," said the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance. "It is clear to us that the total failure of this transitional government may lead to chaos and bloodshed."

Going beyond advocacy, members of the Alliance have also planned to meet with leaders in Southern Africa to find a solution to the negotiation stalemate. Tsvangirai has also taken action to mediate the crisis, meeting earlier this week with President Joseph Kabilia of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South African President Jacob Zuma.

According to reports, foreign ministers from three of the southern African nations that pushed for the unity government - Mozambique, Zambia and Angola - were due in Harare Thursday for talks with Tsvangirai and Mugabe to try to revive the agreement.