Zimbabwe's elusive power-sharing deal now insight – Tsvangirai

HARARE – Zimbabwe's opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Tuesday there had been a positive development in power-sharing talks with President Robert Mugabe, and hoped to deal with outstanding issues on Wednesday.

"As you are aware these talks have been dragging on for some time now, but I must say that there is a positive development," he told reporters as he left the Harare hotel after hours of negotiation.

"Nothing has been concluded yet but we are hoping that tomorrow (Wednesday) we will be able to look at the outstanding issues."

A new round of talks began in Harare on Monday between President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party, seeking a deal to end a post-election crisis that is worsening Zimbabwe’s economic decline.

Prospects for a power-sharing deal had looked remote, with a senior Zanu-PF official accusing the MDC on Tuesday of "trying to put spanners in the works".

Tsvangirai said on Sunday he would rather quit talks than sign a bad deal and challenged Mugabe to hold a new election.

But late on Tuesday, both sides made more positive noises.

"As you are aware these talks have been dragging on for some time now, but I must say that there is a positive development," Tsvangirai told reporters as he left the Harare hotel after hours of negotiation, without giving more details.

"Nothing has been concluded yet but we are hoping that tomorrow (Wednesday) we will be able to look at the outstanding issues."

‘One or two areas outstanding’

Mugabe also told reporters the talks would continue.

"We are still going to talk. We are finishing tomorrow (Wednesday)," he said.

"There is progress, and lack of it, in some areas," he said, adding that "one or two areas" were still outstanding.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who arrived in Harare on Monday for his latest attempt to mediate a deal, has presented a proposal sharing executive powers, the main sticking point in the negotiations, the state-run Herald newspaper said.

It also looks at structuring an all-inclusive government.

But two months of meetings in South Africa and Harare have so far failed to ease divisions over how to share power and Mugabe has threatened to form a cabinet without Tsvangirai.

Further complicating the negotiations is a third faction – a breakaway group from the MDC.

It had been seen as moving closer to Mugabe, but the faction, led by Arthur Mutambara, said on Monday it would not sign a unilateral deal with Mugabe if there was no agreement with Tsvangirai’s faction too.

‘Tremendous’ progress

On Tuesday evening, Mutambara told reporters there had been "tremendous progress" and said he hoped for a deal on Wednesday.

"There are a few remaining issues to be resolved, important issues to be resolved and we hope tomorrow (Wednesday), we will be able to bring finality and closure to the dialogue process."