Tsvangirai 'fairly' satisfied with talks

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claimed on Thursday to be "fairly satisfied" with negotiations held with President Robert Mugabe's party. However, he mentioned certain "sticking points" which needed to be "unravelled".


DAKAR - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday he was "fairly satisfied" with talks with President Robert Mugabe's party to end a political crisis, and said a Monday, Aug. 4 deadline was "not inflexible".

Tsvangirai said talks would resume as planned on Sunday with
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Power-sharing negotiations began last
week under international pressure after Mugabe's unopposed
re-election in a poll dismissed around the world as a sham.

"I am fairly satisfied, but there are, like in any
negotiations, sticking points that need to be unravelled,"
Tsvangirai told reporters in Dakar after meeting Senegalese
President Abdoulaye Wade.

The talks adjourned on Tuesday, leaving little time to
complete them by the Aug. 4 deadline set out in the framework
for negotiations signed on July 21.

"Two weeks may appear too short, but it is not inflexible
and I am sure that the facilitation will adjust as progress
moves forward," Tsvangirai said.

Later, at a news conference, Tsvangirai said the suspension
of negotiations had "nothing to do with what has been offered".

"We are not in these negotiations to have an elite pact by
allocating this post or that position," he said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is mediating between the
rival camps, whose political struggle has exacerbated economic
crisis that has brought hyperinflation and food shortages and
forced millions of refugees over Zimbabwe's borders.

"The country is on its knees. Our people have no food, they
have nothing and therefore in the spirit of trying to resolve
the plight of our people, we have put faith in the only solution
where we don't have guns to fight," Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai won a first round of voting in March but official
results said he fell short of an outright majority. He abandoned
a run-off vote against Mugabe in June because of attacks on his
supporters. He says more than 120 have been killed.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 and wants to carry
on with his new five-year mandate, said on Wednesday that the
talks were going well and he wanted them to succeed.


Analysts say both sides are deeply entrenched and finding
middle ground will be difficult.

Tsvangirai's deputy Thokozani Khupe said Tsvangirai's
leadership of a transitional government was "non-negotiable".

"That is our position and we are not moving from that
position," Khupe told Reuters after a meeting organised by civic
groups and South Africa's COSATU labour federation on Thursday.

"The will of the people must be respected and this is why we
are saying the transitional government must be led by Tsvangirai
for a period which is not going to exceed two years ... and
create an environment where a free and fair election is going to
be held," she said in South Africa.

Tsvangirai told Britain's Channel 4 news on Wednesday that
he hoped the process would allow Mugabe an "honourable exit".

European Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said he hoped the
talks would succeed, but called for an end to violence.

"This situation is unacceptable and is putting thousands of
innocent civilian lives, including women and children, at risk,"
he said. "I therefore call upon the Zimbabwean authorities to
denounce and abandon violence and to provide unfettered
humanitarian access."

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