updated 11/9/2008 7:30:11 PM ET 2008-11-10T00:30:11

African leaders on Sunday said Zimbabwe's rival political factions should share control of the police ministry in an effort to form a unity government, then devote their time to solving the nation's economic crisis.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his main rivals signed a power-sharing agreement in September, but the deal has stalled over how to allocate Cabinet posts, including the ministries that control police and finance.

The opposition is pressing leaders at a Southern African Development Community summit to call for a fair division of the posts and wants the police and finance ministries — posts Mugabe has tried to claim unilaterally for his ZANU-PF party.

The recommendation came at the end of a nearly 12-hour summit. The regional bloc is recommending both ZANU-PF and the main opposition faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai name police ministers.

Details of how they would work together were left to the parties, and they did not immediately comment on the recommendation.

A catastrophic economic crisis
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, was to remain president under the power-sharing deal, with Tsvangirai as prime minister. With the deal stalled, Zimbabweans are without leadership and facing a catastrophic economic crisis.

The African leaders also grappled Sunday with a new humanitarian catastrophe in Congo, lamenting that war and political conflict are still blocking development in the world's poorest continent.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe opened Sunday's extraordinary summit with a call for a cease-fire so humanitarian aid can reach some of the 250,000 people displaced by fighting in eastern Congo.

Congo's east has been engulfed in recent weeks in fighting involving rebels, government soldiers and pro-government militiamen, and even the world's largest U.N. peacekeeping contingent has been unable to protect civilians in eastern Congo.

The peacekeepers' "current mandate limits their ability to become real peacemakers and provide for a lasting solution," Motlanthe said Sunday.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila attended the Johannesburg meeting of the 15-nation regional bloc, with his delegation sitting next to Angola, a neighbor Kabila had asked last week for military help.

When asked by reporters about numerous reports of Angolan forces fighting in Congo along with Kabila's troops, Angolan Foreign Minister Assuncao dos Anjos said only: "No troops."

Roots in Rwandan genocide
A 1998-2002 war in Congo drew in Angola, Zimbabwe and other neighbors. The current violence has roots in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, during which hundreds of thousands of minority Tutsis were slaughtered by Hutu forces. Millions of Hutus fled to eastern Congo.

Today, Congo's army is fighting rebels loyal to Laurent Nkunda, who claims to be protecting Tutsis from militant Rwandan Hutus.

While Congo was at the top of the agenda Sunday, Zimbabwe's crisis has been on the regional bloc's agenda much longer.

A year ago, the bloc appointed former South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate in the dispute between Mugabe and his political opposition.

After two disputed elections and a wave of state-sponsored political violence against opposition members, Mbeki persuaded the rivals to sign a power-sharing agreement in September. But the agreement has stalled over how to allocate Cabinet posts.

Motlanthe had stressed the goal of Sunday's meeting "will be to resolve the issues before it."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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