Zim parties promise smooth-fresh talks

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have promised that power sharing talks, which resumed early today to resolve country's political and economic impasse are proceeding accordingly.

Both parties made this comment after latest round of talks spearheaded by South African president Thabo Mbeki began in capital, Harare yesterday.

Mr Mbeki, who is mandated by Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mediate in stalemate failed to salvage a deal between them which, is supposed to lead to formation of a unity government.

Earlier, Mr Mugabe had said he was ready to form a government alone, while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had said there should be new elections if a deal is not reached.

According to media reports, Mr Mbeki is said to have brought a new power-sharing proposal with him when he arrived in Harare yesterday.

Zimbabwean media have cited an unnamed source as saying that an “extensive” document had been submitted to opposing parties.

“President Mbeki has submitted a document that looks at executive powers and their distribution while it also looks at structure of an all-inclusive government if parties agree to it,” reports further said.

After a six-hour session in a Harare hotel yesterday, Mr Mugabe is reported to have said there had been no deal, but that “we are moving forward, we are not going back,” adding that it was however a good meeting.

Mr Tsvangirai did not comment but MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said parties were trying to find “areas of consensus”.

“We are trying to bridge areas of our differences,” Mr Chamisa was quoted as saying.

Before last month’s talks broke down, two rivals had agreed that Mr Tsvangirai would be named prime minister while Mr Mugabe remained president, but they could not agree on how to share powers.

MDC leader gained more votes than Mr Mugabe in March elections but official results say he did not pass the 50% threshold for outright victory.

Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of June run-off, saying some 200 of his supporters had been killed and 200,000 forced from their homes in a campaign of violence led by army and supporters of ruling Zanu-PF.

Zanu-PF has denied claims and accused MDC of both exaggerating scale of violence and being responsible for it.

Meanwhile, SADC’s defense committee will hold an extraordinary summit in Swaziland tomorrow, to discuss Zimbabwe’s political situation.

“The meeting will mainly review status of implementation of African Union (AU) summit resolution on Zimbabwe,” Gaborone-based organisation said in an e-mailed statement today.

The current members of committee, known as security troika, are Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola.

AU on July 1 called for formation of a coalition government in Zimbabwe to resolve a dispute between president Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai. It also urged 15-nation SADC group to continue its mediation efforts in southern African country.

Mr Mbeki’s brief visit to Zimbabwe came as president Mugabe threatened to name a new cabinet alone.

Last week, Mr Mugabe reportedly gave his opponent last chance to sign power-sharing deal, warning that he would name new cabinet if MDC leader failed to sign on Thursday, a deadline that had already passed.

Responding to warning, MDC had said it would not be forced into a deal or rushed into a deal.

Reports show that it had demanded that cabinet be co-chaired by president Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai.

They further indicate that MDC had also demanded to open fresh negotiations on all issues that had been negotiated.

Zimbabwe has not had a new cabinet since presidential run-off elections on 27 June.

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