18 August 2008

Zimbabwe: Summit Fails to Overcome Talks Deadlock

Cape Town — Zimbabwe's main political parties remain deadlocked over how to share power despite pressure exerted by a summit of Southern African leaders at the weekend.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, the incoming chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said at the end of the SADC annual summit on Sunday that the heads of state and government who attended the meeting believed Zimbabwean negotiators had produced a set of documents that "form a good basis for a speedy resolution of outstanding matters."

But, he told a news conference, it was impossible to say when a settlement would be reached. He said it was a matter "of the greatest urgency" that "an inclusive government" should be formed to deal with Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis.

In an interview published by the New York Times on Sunday, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai made it clear that disagreements over how to split power between the MDC and Zanu-PF, which has ruled for 28 years, were blocking a settlement.

Tsvangirai, whose party won the highest number of votes in March parliamentary and presidential elections, said that he was willing to split cabinet posts with Zanu-PF, and would accept Robert Mugabe retaining the title of president with a role in overseeing the government.

But Tsvangirai said he had to control the cabinet. "Who is in charge of the cabinet?" the Times reported him as asking. "To whom do all these ministers report? Can you dismiss them if they breach? It's fundamental."

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