Mugabe for power-sharing deal as crisis talks suspended

August 11th, 2008 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Harare, Aug 11 (DPA) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe talked up a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at a rally Monday, hours after marathon negotiations between the two on a government of national unity were adjourned in Harare. “Today’s commemoration occurs against the backdrop of a new dispensation,” he told around 3,000 people attending annual Heroes’ Day commemorations at a burial ground in the capital.

Referring to his 14 hours of talks with Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Tsvangirai mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki that went early into Monday morning, Mugabe admitted: “There was a time I’d feel like raising my fist.

“All of us would lose patience but we’d say why lose patience when the facilitor remains calm,” he said in praise of Mbeki.

The talks at a city-centre hotel were set to resume later Monday to iron out remaining “sticking points” mentioned by Mugabe.

Mbeki has been in Harare since Saturday to try to push Zimbabwe’s leaders the final mile towards a deal after nearly two weeks of talks between Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions in South Africa.

For steering the arch-foes towards a deal that Zimbabweans hope will kickstart the country’s reconstruction, Mbeki was covered in praise Monday.

“Long live President Mbeki,” read one placard waved in the crowd of mostly soldiers and police at Heroes Acre burial ground, where fallen stalwarts of the country’s liberation war against Britain, of which Mugabe is a veteran, are buried.

In a sign of a softening of his stance towards Tsvangirai, whom he has previously derided as a Western “puppet”, Mugabe that the time had come to sit down and talk as a family.

“After a fight, the family sits down. That’s where we are,” he said, referring to a state-backed campaign of violence against MDC supporters since March elections that has claimed at least 120 lives.

While “God doesn’t want violence,” Mugabe said, “it’s not a sin to defend ourselves protecting our legacy.”

Speculation had been rife before the weekend that Tsvangirai would attend this year’s Heroes Day ceremonies but he was absent. However, MDC minority faction leader Arthur Mutambara, also a party to the power-sharing talks, did attend.

All reports emanating from the talks thus far suggest Tsvangirai will be made prime minister in the new government.

The division of powers between Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai and prime minister are believed to be among the remaining stumbling blocks.

Zimbabweans are hoping a negotiated settlement will deliver them from a decade of biting hardship wrought by Mugabe’s populist policies.

Analysts say the dire straits of Zimbabwe’s economy, characterized by inflation of over two million percent and critical food shortages, ultimately convinced Zimbabwe’s leader of 28 years that he will have to cede some of his powers.

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