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Hopes grow for Zimbabwe power-sharing deal PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 August 2008

HARARE, Sun Aug 10, (bdnews24.com/Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrived at a Harare hotel on Sunday for expected talks with the opposition amid growing signs a power-sharing deal to end a post-election crisis was imminent.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been mediating in the talks, was at the hotel. Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway MDC faction, were expected there as well.

Talks began last month in the aftermath of Mugabe's re-election unopposed in June in a poll condemned around the world and boycotted by Morgan Tsvangirai because of attacks on his supporters.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, greeted reporters with a smile but made no comment as he arrived at the hotel.

Mutambara said in a newspaper article earlier that a compromise agreement was close. He said that despite limitations it offered the "best temporary measure to extricate the country from its worst situation".

Zimbabweans and neighbouring countries hope an agreement could end years of political turmoil and revive an economy whose collapse has spilled millions of people across Zimbabwe's borders.

Investors are nevertheless likely to remain cautious about making financial commitments, seeking tangible signs of long-term political stability and a government with the credentials to rebuild the country.

A senior ruling ZANU-PF official said on Sunday that Tsvangirai, Mugabe and Mutambara were expected to hold three-way talks.

BREAKTHROUGH

Any deal would require a green light from security and military chiefs, powerful figures with wide sway over Mugabe who want to make sure they are not vulnerable to international prosecution when the political dust settles, analysts say.

The ZANU-PF official said a major breakthrough was reached when the MDC agreed to recognise Mugabe's legitimacy as president. He said Mugabe's position was not negotiable.

ZANU-PF had agreed on Tsvangirai as prime minister, but "not in the sense" of media reports which have said he will be given executive powers while Mugabe becomes a ceremonial president, said the ZANU-PF official.

MDC officials were not immediately available for comment.

Helping to secure a settlement before he hosts an Aug. 16 summit in South Africa of regional leaders he has represented in the mediation could be a political coup for Mbeki.

Mbeki has come under intense criticism at home and abroad for not taking a tough line with Mugabe, a policy he argues would only backfire and deepen tensions.

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