President Robert Mugabe vowed to call elections next year to "bring an end" to the troubled coalition with his longtime rival and said a vote will be held even if constitutional reforms aren't completed, state radio reported Friday.
It was the latest sign of deep divisions within the shaky power-sharing deal, which is due to expire in February after two years. Mugabe said at a meeting of his party's youth leaders Thursday that the coalition won't be extended by more than a few weeks.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain 30 years ago, entered into the power-sharing agreement after the disputed 2008 election that was marred by violence. However, the coalition has shown growing signs of strain in recent weeks.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai expressed "utter disgust" after Mugabe told him he had reappointed his party's 10 provincial governors. And Tsvangirai has asked the United Nations, European Union and four nations not to recognize the ambassadors who were unilaterally appointed by Mugabe.
Still, Tsvangirai has insisted he won't be pulling out of the coalition.
"I will not win every fight ... but I am committed to winning the war and win we shall," he said in a list of woes circulated by his party this week.
Mugabe said he had followed the law that empowered him to make the appointments without approval from the former opposition leaders, whom he alleged were taking advice from Western countries.
"As long as the Europeans and the Americans are interfering, this is not going anywhere," the radio quoted Mugabe saying.
An envoy for South Africa's president, who is the chief regional mediator, denied that the fresh standoff had paralyzed Zimbabwe's government. Charles Nqakula said that Zimbabwe's ministers were still carrying out their functions, according to the state broadcaster.
Tsvangirai controls about half the government ministries, excluding the top strategic ministries of defense and police. His minister in the key finance ministry has ended world record inflation and acute shortages of food, gasoline and other basic goods.
Mugabe blames the crisis on targeted Western economic sanctions against him and his party elite, and says the coalition can make no further progress until they are lifted.
"This is rank madness, and utterly nonsensical," Tsvangirai said in his review. "Mugabe and his colleagues brought these restrictive measures on themselves through the flagrant abuses of human rights and the economic disaster they inflicted" on Zimbabwe.