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Zimbabwe power sharing talks to resume

Latest update : 2008-08-11

South African-brokered marathon talks between Zimbabwe rivals Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe paused early Monday with no deal being reached. Mugabe felt "confident" about the talks, which are due to resume on Monday.

Zimbabwe's political rivals held marathon power-sharing talks before breaking in the early hours of Monday, with President Robert Mugabe saying he was "confident" a deal was within reach.
  
South African President Thabo Mbeki mediated the talks at a Harare hotel that stretched a full day amid signs the rivals had closed in on an agreement to end the country's protracted political crisis.
  
Mugabe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, the head of a smaller MDC faction, had arrived at the hotel more than 13 hours before the talks finally broke up.
  
"We're not through yet, but we've taken a break," Mugabe said as he left the talks, adding meetings were to resume later Monday.
  
Asked if there were sticking points, Mugabe answered: "There are always sticking points in any dialogue, but we are confident we will overcome."
  
Tsvangirai left the hotel shortly afterward, saying Mbeki would "give a press statement on the issue" and refused further comment.
  
Mutambara said only that "the talks are still in progress" as he exited.
  
The talks are due to resume following a ceremony on Monday in honour of Zimbabwe's Heroes' Day, held in memory of those who died in the country's liberation war, said Labour Minister Nicholas Goche, a negotiator for the ruling party.
  
Mutambara spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa told AFP that Mbeki had first met all three individually before bringing them in together.
  
On Sunday, bouquets of flowers and chairs were brought into the same ballroom at the hotel where on July 21 the rivals signed a deal laying the framework for power-sharing negotiations. But the day passed without word of when or if a ceremony was planned.
  
MDC number two Tendai Biti, the party's chief negotiator, briefly spoke to reporters as he left the Rainbow Towers hotel on Sunday, nodding yes when asked if any progress had been made.
  
"I think we all need to pray," he said.
  
Mbeki, the mediator for the Zimbabwe talks, arrived in Harare late Saturday after more than two weeks of negotiations in South Africa in a bid to reach a power-sharing deal following Mugabe's widely condemned re-election.
  
His trip came amid signs the rivals were nearing a deal in the negotiations, with both Mbeki's government and Mugabe reporting progress in recent days.
  
It also came ahead of Heroes' Day and a summit of southern African heads of state next weekend.
  
The power-sharing talks follow the 84-year-old Mugabe's re-election in a one-candidate poll in June.
  
Tsvangirai boycotted the June 27 presidential run-off despite finishing ahead of Mugabe in the March first round, citing violence against his supporters that had killed dozens and injured thousands.
  
The opposition leader believes his first-round total gives him the right to the lion's share of power. The ruling ZANU-PF party has insisted Mugabe must be recognised as president as part of any deal, as he won the June 27 vote.
  
Negotiations have reportedly included proposals for Mugabe to take on a more ceremonial role as president in exchange for amnesty from prosecution, with Tsvangirai being made executive prime minister.
  
Human rights groups say Mugabe could face prosecution over a myriad of issues ranging from the killing of opposition supporters in the 1980s to the recent political violence.
  
However, The Voice weekly newspaper, a ZANU-PF mouthpiece, reported in its Sunday edition that Mugabe would remain with executive powers in a deal the rivals were likely to sign.
  
It claimed that Tsvangirai would be given the role of "non-executive" prime minister under the deal.

Date created : 2008-08-11

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