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Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Zimbabwe rivals to resume talks

Robert Mugabe, 9 November 2008
Robert Mugabe wants Zanu-PF to retain key ministries

Zimbabwe's political parties will hold a new round of power-sharing talks in South Africa next week, the state-run Herald newspaper has reported.

The ruling and opposition parties are deadlocked over the allocation of posts in a unity administration.

Several rounds of talks have already failed as the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe worsens.

Meanwhile, the government denied a report that it was blocking a visit from former UN head Kofi Annan.

The Herald, seen as a mouthpiece for President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, reported a government official as saying a planned mission including Mr Annan was biased.

Cholera outbreak

Mr Annan, former US President Jimmy Carter and human rights activist Nelson Mandela's wife Graca Machel said they wanted to assess humanitarian needs.

The three international figures are part of a group called the Elders, set up to tackle world conflicts.

"The visit has been deemed a partisan mission by a group of people with partisan interests," an unnamed government source told The Herald.

Aid groups say Zimbabwe is facing a major humanitarian crisis.

Health worker protest in Harare, 18 November 2008

They expect that more than five million people, or nearly half the population, will need food aid by early next year.

The economy is in freefall, with inflation last listed in July, at 231,000,000%.

An outbreak of cholera is reported to have caused dozens of deaths and health services are in a state of collapse.

The Herald said that next week's talks would be led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has overseen mediation on Zimbabwe's political crisis.

Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai agreed in September to share power - but not how to allocate cabinet posts.

The MDC resisted pressure from regional leaders earlier this month to join a unity government that they say is being dictated by Mr Mugabe.

The deadlock follows disputed presidential elections earlier this year.

Mr Tsvangirai won the first round in March, but not by enough to secure outright victory.

He then pulled out of a run-off in June, citing a campaign of violence against his supporters.

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