Mbeki denies breakdown of Zimbabwean talks

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Power-sharing talks between the government and opposition in Zimbabwe ended without agreement Tuesday, South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating the negotiations, said.

He said differences in power sharing had arisen between President Robert Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, which held up agreement on a Kenya-style government of national unity after three days of talks.

He said Tsvangirai had requested an indefinite adjournment in the negotiations to reflect on the ‘proposals on the table.’

But Mbeki said Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller opposition party, had agreed on a power-sharing deal.

“The talks have not broken down…one of the parties asked for some time to look at the proposals on the table,” he said.

“There are differences in opinion between President Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai on the powers each should have in a government in which all parties are represented,” he added, without elaborating on the demands of the two.

Tsvangirai, who is locked in a tussle for presidential power with Mugabe after disputed elections two months ago, earlier left the venue of the talks in a huff, the first sign the negotiations had hit a stumbling block.

Reports indicated he had agreed for Mugabe to retain the presidency, but wanted to strip him of his current executive powers and transfer these to the office of prime minister, which he had been offered in the power-sharing deal.

But Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years uninterrupted, is said to have furiously resisted Tsvangirai’s plans, stalling agreement.

Mbeki said he would Wednesday travel to Angola, which heads a security and politics arm of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) group, to brief President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos on the outcome of the talks.

He has been in Zimbabwe since Saturday trying to hammer out a deal on behalf of SADC and the African Union, which are pressing for a power-sharing deal between the government and the opposition to end their longstanding political stand-off. Panapress.

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