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Zimbabwe talks to resume in S. Africa at weekend
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20:57, August 15, 2008

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The talks between the Zimbabwe ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will resume this weekend in South Africa, state media The Herald reported on Friday.

The talks will resume on the sidelines of the forthcoming summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to be held in Johannesburg on Saturday and Sunday.

The Herald newspaper said senior officials from ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations confirmed Thursday the resumption of the talks which are aimed at resolving political crisis in the country.

The talks adjourned days ago as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai requested to "reflect and consult" on a sticking point in the dialogue.

ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations had signed 13 agreements before Tsvangirai abruptly pulled out of the South Africa-mediated talks on Tuesday evening, The Herald said.

Tsvangirai and MDC's smaller faction leader Arthur Mutambara left for South Africa on Thursday and President Robert Mugabe will fly there on Friday, the newspaper said.

Earlier reports said that Tsvangirai was stopped from going to South Africa as his travel documents were seized by immigration officials when he was at the Harare airport earlier Thursday.

The parties have agreed on every aspect of an all-inclusive government except on a single issue which Tsvangirai wanted to consult over, the report said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who mediated the talks, has said that the sticking point that Tsvangirai wanted to consider "is about power sharing."

Mbeki refused to elaborate, saying he could not do so because of the media blackout stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the rival parties to formally start dialogue.

The dialogue, which formally started on July 24 in South Africa's administrative capital of Pretoria and later moved back to Harare, has stalled a few times.

Mbeki announced on Wednesday, at the end of the latest session of the dialogue, that the talks were indefinitely suspended.

ZANU-PF principal negotiator Cde Patrick Chinamasa said that "the talks never collapsed and all parties are committed to the dialogue," according to The Herald report.

"I would also want to confirm ZANU-PF's commitment to see the talks end successfully sooner rather than later to the people's expectations," he said.

Chinamasa said there was pressure for the country to convene parliament and form a government.

"We cannot continue wandering around without direction, hence the need to swear in parliamentarians and open the House so that the elected members can continue to fulfill their constitutional mandate," he was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe held presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29, in which presidential candidate Tsvangirai received a leading number of votes but failed to win outright. His MDC party won a majority seats in the lower house of the parliament.

Tsvangirai boycotted the June 27 presidential runoff, citing political violence as the major reason. The result is Mugabe, the sole candidate in the race, won an overwhelming victory and was sworn in for a new presidential term immediately after the election result was announced on June 29. Tsvangirai refused to acknowledge Mugabe's victory.

Mugabe has not formed a new cabinet and sworn in a new parliament.


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