Wed, Jul 30, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Opposition says Harare crisis talks deadlocked

AFP , JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Negotiations in South Africa aimed at ending the political crisis in neighboring Zimbabwe are deadlocked, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesman said yesterday.

“The talks are in a deadlock,” said George Sibotshiwe, chief spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader.

“We cannot discuss the main issues, we can only say that they are in a deadlock and that the parties will consult with their principals,” he said.

“If the sticking points are resolved then the talks will resume,” he said.

Tsvangirai flew in to Johannesburg on Monday amid claims by his party that the talks between the opposition and representatives of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s ruling regime had run into trouble.

His arrival in South Africa came a week after he signed a deal with Mugabe to begin talks on sharing power after a months-long election dispute.

The talks, which are being held at a secret location in the Pretoria area, are meant to be wrapped up within a fortnight of the signing of the initial framework agreement.

However, the South African government, the long-time mediator between the MDC and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, has already indicated the target could be extended.

MDC sources had said on Monday that the talks had run into trouble over what post would be offered to Tsvangirai in any power-sharing agreement.

While Tsvangirai believes his victory in the first round of a presidential election in March should give him the right to the lion’s share of power, the MDC sources said Mugabe’s negotiators were so far only offering him the chance to become a vice president.

“They have offered Morgan the post of third vice president and nothing else, which is obviously a position totally unacceptable to the MDC,” said one MDC source.

There has been no comment so far from ZANU-PF, with neither of its chief negotiators, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa or Labor Minister Nicholas Goche, available for comment.

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