Zimbabwe rival parties optimistic about talks, power-sharing deal expected Thursday

September 11th, 2008 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Harare, Sep 11 (Xinhua) Zimbabwe’s ruling and opposition parties have both expressed their optimism over a power-sharing deal, saying they are hopeful the deal is likely to be hammered out Thursday. The ruling ZANU-PF led by President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headed by Morgan Tsvangirai had resumed their power-sharing talks Monday with the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mandated by the Southern African Development Community.

After Wednesday’s talks, which have been deadlocked since August over the sharing and distribution of executive power among them, President Mugabe told the press “so far so good”.

“Tomorrow (Thursday) we will hopefully sign (an agreement),” Mugabe said.

MDC also expressed the hope that the negotiation process would be successfully concluded Thursday, the Herald newspaper said.

The Herald reported Tuesday that President Mbeki arrived in Zimbabwe Monday with a document which seeks to resolve the outstanding issue of sharing and distributing executive powers among the parties of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe last week gave the last chance to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to sign the power-sharing deal, warning that he would name the new cabinet if Tsvangirai failed to sign.

“We know that it is the British government behind it. It is the British government, which does not want an agreement, and as long as they do not want it, he (Tsvangirai) will not sign.” Mugabe was quoted by the Herald as saying.

In the June presidential election the ZANU-PF lost to MDC its Lower House majority for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980, but MDC won the majority by only a narrow margin.

The inter-party talks began in July to resolve the impasse resulting from Mugabe’s re-election in June in a presidential run-off.

The vote was boycotted by Tsvangirai, who accused the Mugabe’s ruling party of backing the violence against the MDC supporters.

The negotiations were very close to a breakthrough on the eve of the Southern African Community Development summit held in mid- August in South Africa, but stalled as Tsvangirai requested to ” reflect and consult” on a sticking point in the dialogue.

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

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