Talks set to resume says Herald, MDC refutes claim

HARARE – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's party said he would meet opposition leaders on Friday, a day after his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai declared a deadlock in talks and urged the intervention of a mediator.

Tsvangirai’s spokesman said he was not aware of any new negotiations.

The two men have held face to face meetings on several occasions, but failed to agree on allocation of key ministries, angering Zimbabweans and diminishing hopes that last month’s power-sharing deal could end devastating economic turmoil.

Official data on Thursday showed annual inflation surged to 231 million percent in July, reminding the leaders of the dire economic situation and the need to form a government quickly to tackle the crisis.

"The principals are meeting (today) to continue with discussions. Constituting a cabinet requires trust that certain offices are not demanded to overrun this country with imperialist agents," ZANU-PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa told the official Herald newspaper.

ZANU-PF says the MDC is working in the interests of former colonial power Britain, which it blames for the economic crisis. The MDC and Britain reject the allegation.

"When we met as negotiators (on Wednesday) there was a feeling that our understanding of our respective mandates was different. Our expectation is that they (principals) would instruct us and give us a common mandate."

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF denies there is a deadlock and sees no need to involve the mediator, former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Chinamasa said statements by the MDC threaten the September 15 power-sharing deal.

Under the deal, Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980, would retain the presidency and chair the cabinet, while Tsvangirai as prime minister would head a council of ministers supervising the cabinet. Reuters