Troubled power-sharing talks between the government and the opposition in Zimbabwe entered the third day Tuesday, with diminishing hopes that the two sides are close to agreement.
South African President Thabo Mbeki is mediating in the talks between President Robert Mugabe and two opposition leaders, which are focused on hammering out a deal to share power to end a long-running stand-off between the two sides.
The talks have been on-off for the last three days, dashing earlier hopes that an agreement was close.
Both the government and opposition are claiming the presidency after disputed presidential elections two months ago.
This prompted the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to appoint Mbeki to mediate between the two sides, and press for a Kenya-style power-sharing deal.
But officials close to the negotiations say the roles and powers of the respective party leaders in a government of national unity had led to disagreements which was holding up a deal.
Under an outline deal leaked to the media, President Mugabe was to retain the presidency, and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai the premiership.
But insiders say Tsvangirai is insisting on executive powers, leaving Mugabe as just a ceremonial head of state.
The Zimbabwean leader is said to be furiously resisting his opponent’s demands, leading to a deadlock in the crisis talks.
Mbeki, who has had to extend his stay in Zimbabwe from two to four days now, is keen for a deal in Zimbabwe ahead of a SADC meeting this weekend in South Africa.
He has come under fire in the past for not pushing the two sides, especially Mugabe, hard into a compromise to end the country’s long-running political crisis.