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Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 15:40 UK

Mugabe rival 'gets passport back'

Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai still hopes to attend a summit of regional leaders

Zimbabwe's main opposition party says authorities have returned the travel documents of its leader and other officials ahead of a regional summit.

The documents had been confiscated at Harare airport as the opposition leaders tried to fly to South Africa.

The MDC said its leader Morgan Tsvangirai and two colleagues would now try to continue their journey.

They are due to meet South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating in power-sharing negotiations.

The talks were adjourned on Tuesday without agreement.

MDC official Andrew Chadwick told Reuters news agency: "The passport situation has just been resolved. They have their passports now. They will be leaving (for South Africa) on the 6 pm (1600 GMT) flight. There was no explanation."

We knew negotiations would be difficult, but a resolution that represents anything other than the will of the Zimbabwean people would be a disaster for our country
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai

When the passports were originally seized, MDC General Secretary Tendai Biti said it showed that the talks with Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were a farce and a sham.

According to Mr Biti, the MDC delegation were also planning to attend a summit of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in Johannesburg this weekend at which Zimbabwe is expected to be top of the agenda.

Zimbabwe's information minister refused to comment on the incident, saying he blamed the Western media for the breakdown of negotiations.

On Wednesday, Mr Tsvangirai said he remained committed to discussing power-sharing after talks with the ruling Zanu-PF were adjourned the night before.

The negotiations have involved Zanu-PF, Mr Tsvangirai's MDC and a breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

'Reflection'

Mr Mbeki, the regionally appointed mediator on the Zimbabwe crisis, has been under pressure to make progress on the negotiations ahead of the Sadc summit.

Mr Mugabe (l) and Mr Mutambara (c) at talks in Harare
Power-sharing talks brokered by Mr Mbeki adjourned after three days

But talks were adjourned on Tuesday to allow Mr Tsvangirai time for reflection, Mr Mbeki said.

He also denied that there was a breakdown in negotiations after reports that Mr Mutambara had signed a separate deal with Mr Mugabe.

Mr Mutumbara said the report was "totally false and baseless".

"We knew negotiations would be difficult, but a resolution that represents anything other than the will of the Zimbabwean people would be a disaster for our country," Mr Tsvangirai in a statement.

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 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.




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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Washington PostSouthern Africa leaders meet on Zimbabwe - 48 mins ago
Reuters Southern Africa leaders meet on Zimbabwe - 1 hr ago
Sydney Morning HeraldZimbabwe rivals in attendance as key summit opens - 1 hr ago
Al Jazeera Sadc summit opens in South Africa - 1 hr ago
SABC Mbeki highlights importance of SADC - 1 hr ago
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