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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 17:53 UK

Mugabe rival 'needs to reflect'

Morgan Tsvangirai, 12 August 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai left Tuesday's talks in Harare early

Talks on power-sharing in Zimbabwe have adjourned to give opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai time to reflect, South Africa's president has said.

Thabo Mbeki said he believed negotiations could still succeed, despite no deal being signed after the latest round of meetings.

Mr Mbeki left Zimbabwe on Wednesday after mediating during three days of talks in the capital, Harare.

He said he was determined to help end the "suffering" of Zimbabwe's people.

The power-sharing talks have involved Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and a breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

I know the suffering that the people of Zimbabwe are experiencing
South African President Thabo Mbeki

Mr Mutumbara said a report in the state-run Herald newspaper that he had signed a bilateral deal with Mr Mugabe was "totally false and baseless".

"You cannot at all extract a bilateral agreement from the current tripartite negotiations framework," he said.

Mr Mbeki denied that there had been a breakdown in the talks after Mr Tsvangirai left Tuesday's round of talks early.

"We are indeed convinced that it is possible to conclude these negotiations quite quickly," he said after travelling from Zimbabwe to Angola.

"They are working on a truly inclusive government."

Earlier, Mr Mbeki had promised to reconvene negotiators.

"The time, the space that Mr Tsvangirai has asked for is to reflect on this matter about which the other two negotiators have agreed," he said.

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Zimbabwean negotiators leave talks

Mr Mbeki, the regionally appointed mediator on the Zimbabwe crisis, did not elaborate, but sticking points in the power-sharing talks are reported to include:

  • The balance of power between Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai
  • The makeup of any coalition cabinet
  • Control of Zimbabwe's security forces
  • The possibility of an amnesty over post-election violence

Mr Mbeki also spoke about Zimbabwe's economic crisis and its impact on the country's neighbours.

"I know the suffering that the people of Zimbabwe are experiencing," he said.

"I know the violence they've experienced in the last few months, I know the problems that have accumulated over many years.

"We've got to say what it is that we can contribute to help these problems solved."

The South African president said he was determined to reach a deal, as were the negotiating parties.

"If it means staying in Zimbabwe, in Harare, for six months I'll stay for that."

Briefing

Mr Mbeki has been under pressure to make progress on Zimbabwe ahead of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit this weekend.

Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe won a second controversial poll in June unopposed

His spokesman told AFP news agency he was going to brief SADC's defence and security chairman, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, on the latest developments.

Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of Zimbabwe's presidential election in March, before pulling out of a June run-off citing a campaign of violence against his supporters.

In parliamentary elections, his party took 100 seats, Mr Mutambara's faction took 10 and the ruling Zanu-PF 99.

Mr Mutambara did not stand in the presidential poll, backing independent former finance minister Simba Makoni - a strong proponent of a unity government.

Human Rights Watch said this week post-election violence had not stopped, with supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF continuing to terrorise villagers in rural areas.

The government was making little effort to dismantle torture camps set up by its supporters, and hundreds of opposition activists were still in hiding, the group said.

Mr Mugabe and his supporters have blamed the opposition and the international community for instability in Zimbabwe.


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