Zimbabwe’s ruling party, opposition preparing to sign power-sharing agreement

July 20th, 2008 - 8:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, July 20 (DPA) An agreement between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on the agenda for talks on a powersharing government appeared to be near at hand Sunday. Such an agreement, which an MDC source said was likely to be signed in the coming week, would be a coup for the Zimbabwe mediator South African President Thabo Mbeki, whose attempts to get MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to the negotiating table have failed so far.

South Africa’s Sunday Times reported the memorandum of understanding on talks would be signed Monday in Harare but did not give its source.

On Friday, Mbeki dismantled one of the key obstacles Tsvangirai had given for the talks on powersharing to begin, by expanding his mediation attempts to include representatives from the United Nations and the African Union.

Mbeki’s new “reference group” comprises African Union Commission chief Jean Ping, UN envoy Haile Menkerios and George Chikoti, deputy foreign minister of Angola, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.

Tsvangirai, who accuses Mbeki of being biased in favour of Mugabe, had been demanding an extra level of oversight in any talks between the MDC and Mugabe, who has reneged on previous agreements with the opposition party.

The MDC has welcomed the UN and AU involvement in the mediation process, with spokesman Nelson Chamisa saying “it eliminated our discomfort zone.”

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