A summit of Southern African leaders called Sunday for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his arch-rival, prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai, to share control of the contested Home Affairs Ministry, dpa reported.
The dispute over the key internal security agency has threatened to sink a power-sharing deal that had offered a way out of Zimbabwe's political stalemate.
An emergency summit of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) had decided that "the inclusive government" that Mugabe and Tsvangirai had agreed on should "be formed forthwith." The leaders urged that Zimbabwe's "Ministry of Home Affairs be co- managed" between Mugabe's Zanu and Tsvangirai's MDC-T parties, SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao said.
It was not clear whether the proposal, which was in line with Zanu-PF's demands, would be acceptable to the MDC.
The MDC has so far insisted on having full control of the ministry, which manages the police and the electoral process, in return for allowing Zanu-PF to retain defence.
"Whether the parties agree or not, that is the position of summit," SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao said.
Reading from a communique issued after more than nine hours of closed-door talks, held at a Johannesburg convention centre, Salamao said the sharing arrangement would be reviewed every six months.
The SADC leaders also called for a constitutional amendment to be introduced without delay to allow for Tsvangirai take up a new role of prime minister.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change agreed in September to end their decade-long standoff and share power. Under the terms of the deal, Mugabe remains president and Tsvangirai becomes prime minister of a government of 31 ministries.
The agreement has been bogged down in bickering over control of ministries. The MDC has accused Zanu-PF of trying to cling to the most important portfolios.