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Zimbabwe's opposition agrees to share power with Mugabe

In a breakthrough that may lead Zimbabwe out of its current humanitarian crisis, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced today that his party will enter into a power-sharing government with long-time ruler Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai will be sworn in as Zimbabwe's prime minister on February 11 and he and Mugabe will together appoint a new cabinet by February 13. This timetable was worked out in South Africa at a summit of the leaders of 15 southern African countries that was chaired by South Africa's interim president Kgaleme Motlanthe.

Tsvangirai's decision is a bit of a surprise. Just a few days ago his party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said that the offer to form a joint government with Mugabe fell "far short" of its expectations.

The news that Tsvangirai and Mugabe will move ahead to share power is the first positive sign coming from Zimbabwe in years. Analysts are just starting to form their opinions on the deal, as seen in this Reuters flash. It could be the first step towards returning the country to democracy and prosperity or, as critics fear, it could be just another ploy by the wily Mugabe to extend his time in power.