ZIM TALKS DEADLOCKED

Zimbabwe's main rivals failed to reach a settlement on the final day of a regional summit at which the country's crisis was high on the agenda, a spokesman for the opposition leader said yesterday.

Zimbabwe's main rivals failed to reach a settlement on the final day of a regional summit at which the country's crisis was high on the agenda, a spokesman for the opposition leader said yesterday.

"We're finished," said George Sibotshiwe, spokesman for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, referring to Tsvangirai's meetings with regional leaders at the summit.

Asked if there was an agreement, he said: "No, not at all." He declined to discuss details of the talks at the summit.

Major stumbling blocks were said to remain in the talks, with much of the disagreement centred on the distribution of power between Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

A South African official close to the negotiations said the sticking points included whether Mugabe would retain the right to hire and fire ministers and how long a transitional government would remain in place.

The MDC wants a clause stating that if one of the parties pulled out of the government of national unity elections would be held within 90 days, according to the official.

"It's better not to have a deal than to have a bad deal," Tsvangirai was quoted as saying yesterday.

The summit of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) ended yesterday.

President Thabo Mbeki, the regionally appointed mediator for the Zimbabwe talks, had raised the possibility on Saturday that a deal could be reached before the end of the meeting.

SADC's troika on security issues also agreed that a deal to resolve the crisis should be signed during the summit, a foreign minister who attended the meeting said. The troika comprises Angola, Tanzania and Swaziland.

Zimbabwe's crisis intensified after Mugabe's re-election in a June run-off poll widely condemned as a sham. - Sapa-AFP

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