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Zimbabwe parties fail to sign power-sharing deal amid Mbeki's visit, talks to continue
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17:08, September 09, 2008

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South African President Thabo Mbeki made a brief visit to Zimbabwe on Monday to have talks with both the ruling and opposition parties, trying to broker a long-awaited power-sharing deal between them which is aimed at solving the political and economic crisis facing the country.

Mbeki, who is mandated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mediate in the inter-party talks among Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and a small faction of MDC, failed to salvage a deal between them which is supposed to lead to the formation of a unity government. But both sides involved in the talks have promised to continue the talks.

State media the Herald reported on Tuesday that Mbeki arrived in Zimbabwe with a document which seeks to resolve the outstanding issue of sharing and distributing executive powers among the parties.

The document was presented to all the parties involved during the meetings. "President Mbeki has submitted a document that looks at the executive powers and their distribution while it also looks at the structure of an all-inclusive government if the parties agree to it," the Herald quoted a source as saying.

"The negotiators are now reviewing the mechanism presented in the document. It is an extensive and technical document," the source said.

"The negotiators will study, debate and try to find common ground on the proposed structure of government and review the positions put forward for debate," the source was quoted.

By the end of Monday, the negotiators from the parties failed to work out a solution to the outstanding issue and they said they would report the results of the negotiations to their principles, the Herald reported.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mogabe, after the talks on Monday evening, expressed optimism by saying that although a deal had not yet been reached, the parties made much progress, according to the Herald.

"It (the meeting) was a very good meeting. We are moving forward. We are not going back (with the dialogue)," the president said.

Also at the end of the talks, Speaking to the media, Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, said the negotiations would continue on Tuesday.

He said "we are trying to bridge the areas of our differences."

Mbeki's brief visit to Zimbabwe came as Zimbabwe President threatened to name a new cabinet alone.

Mugabe last week gave the last chance to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to sign the power-sharing deal, warning that he would name the new cabinet if Tsvantirai fails to sign on Thursday, a deadline that has already passed.

The president said on Wednesday that the opposition leader was being compromised by the British government.

"We know that it is the British government behind it. It is the British government, which does not want an agreement, and as long as they do not want it, he (Tsvantirai) will not sign." Mugabe was quoted by the Herald as saying.

"They want the sanctions to continue to punish us into an agreement with them. It is the land question, and all this talk about democracy is nonsense," Mugabe said.

The president said this is a government born out of elections with a mandate to serve the people.

"We are a government, and we are a government that is empowered by elections. So we should form a cabinet. We will not allow a situation where we will not have a cabinet forever," Mugabe was quoted.

"If after tomorrow (Thursday) Tsvangirai does not want to sign, we will certainly put together a cabinet. We feel frozen at the moment," he said.

Responding to the warning, the opposition MDC-T has said it will not be forced into a deal or rushed into a deal.

It also said that it had lost faith in power-sharing talks with President Mugabe, reports said.

The MDC has demanded that cabinet be co-chaired by President Mugabe and MDC leader Tsvangirai. It has also demanded to open fresh negotiations on all issues that had negotiated.

Zimbabwe has not had a new cabinet since the presidential run-off elections on June 27 this year. The Zimbabwe ruling and the opposition have not worked out a power-sharing deal yet after weeks of talks.

Zimbabwean President and ruling ZANU-PF candidate Mugabe won a landslide victory in the presidential run-off election on June 27.

The Zimbabwe election committee said official results showed that Mugabe, 84, won 85.5 percent of the votes in the election against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's 9.3 percent, defeating Tsvangirai by a huge margin.

Zimbabwe held the presidential run-off as scheduled despite opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the race. Tsvangirai withdrew from the election citing various reasons, including political violence.

Tsvangirai received 47.9 percent of the votes in the first round of election held on March 29, followed by President Robert Mugabe's 43.2 percent.

An outright winner needs to obtain an absolute majority of the votes, otherwise a run-off needs to be held, according to Zimbabwe's law.


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