Zimbabwe Rivals Negotiate Power-Sharing Deal
Update: the summit between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition MDC continues after three days. Reports that Morgan Tsvangirai, opposition leader, has abandoned the talks have been denied by Tsvangirai himself and Thabo Mbeki, President of neighboring South Africa and chief mediator of the talks.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai met in Harare for three days in the latest round. It ended on Tuesday night without reaching agreement, dimming hopes of an end to a post election crisis that has worsened Zimbabwe's economic decline.
"The MDC remains committed to participating in any meaningful and genuine dialogue that urgently moves this process forward," Tsvangirai said in the emailed statement.
"We are committed to a solution that recognizes that the people spoke on the 29th of March 2008 -- a solution that ensures tangible deliverables are put on the table of Zimbabweans. A solution must thus put the people first, not leadership positions and titles."
Update: negotiations continue, with no evident outcome so far.
Discussions between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over their respective roles in a proposed power-sharing government continued late Sunday amid reports Mr. Mugabe was unwilling to cede significant powers to Tsvangirai, who stands to become prime minister if the two men can reach final agreement.
Zimbabwe may be headed toward an agreed-upon government, but the implications are unclear. President Robert Mugabe is demanding that his rule be considered legitimate by the opposition MDC, and that he be immune to prosecution for human rights abuses. In return, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai would assume the post of Prime Minister, though it's not yet know what sort of actual power that would entail.
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a smaller MDC faction, were all inside a Harare hotel on Sunday.
None of them made any comment as they arrived separately.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Tsvangirai would be premier although his powers were still under discussion.
"There could be a signing tomorrow [Sunday], after the leaders have met to thrash out the remaining issues," the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
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 official.
MDC officials were not immediately available for comment.
Zimbabwe, already deep in economic trouble, slipped further into crisis after presidential elections in March.
Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have crossed the borders in neighbouring South Africa, Zambia and Botswana to escape soaring unemployment and civil unrest.
Mr Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change, won the first round of elections but withdrew from a run-off against Mugabe as government thugs attacked his supporters in a campaign of intimidation.
The opposition leader has since said he could work with moderates in the president’s party but would not share power with Mr Mugabe.
The two met for the time in a decade last month to kickstart peace talks but the negotiations broke down in days.
They resumed last week amid indications that Mr Tsvangirai may be offered the post of prime minister while Mr Mugabe would stay as president with immunity from prosecution for alleged human rights abuses during his reign.
Any deal would still need to be approved by Zimbabwe’s powerful security chiefs in the military and police.
A source close to the talks said: “One sticking point seems to be the position of security officials who are seeking immunity from prosecution, something that hasn’t been on the table so far.”