Zimbabwe opposition leader may still walk away from unity talks

August 10th, 2008 - 12:33 pm ICT by ANI  

Johannesburg, Aug.10 (ANI): Zimbabwe’’s leading opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has threatened to walk away from unity talks with President Robert Mugabe if he does not get his share in the controversially proposed power-sharing agreement. With South African President Thabo Mbeki playing the role of chief mediator, the talks are still said to be at the crossroads. While the Mugabe camp is optimistic about the final outcome of the negotiations, there is a view that Mugabe will not cede majority control. To Tsvangirai’’s Movement for Democrat Change (MDC). “We anticipate that there could be a signing after the leaders have met to thrash out the remaining issues,” one ruling party official, was quoted by a foreign news agency on Saturday night. Should Mugabe stick adamantly to his position, Tsvangirai’’s allies have warned that he could walk away from the negotiating table. The MDC has warned that Tsvangirai “will walk away, with the mandate of his party, if he is offered anything short of full executive power”. According to The Independent, should Tsvangirai take such a decision, Mugabe is likely immediately to form a government without him, banishing the former into political wilderness for the next five years. Tsvangirai is expected to enter the Mugabe Government as a junior partner, and has the potential for making things difficult for the international donor community, which has said on repeated occasions that it will fund only a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. With the support of the donor community, Tsvangirai could choose to sit tight and let the talks stall, rather than break off or see his party subsumed in government. Talks have already broken down once, before they resumed last Sunday. The MDC has negotiated for a 30-month transitional government, but Zanu-PF wants it to run for the full five-year term. The parties are also divided on the size of the future coalition, with the MDC pushing for 22 ministries while Zanu-PF demands 38. The talks began on Friday before Mbeki’’s arrival. He began a round of talks with each party leader before their joint session. Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a breakaway MDC faction, has also been invited to participate. Mbeki is under pressure to show results before he hosts a Southern African Development Community summit later this month. On Friday, Western nations urged the lifting of restrictions on the activities of aid agencies in Zimbabwe imposed on 4 June after the government accused them of favouring opposition supporters in the distribution of food aid, the paper reported. (ANI)

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