Mbeki arrives in Harare for more talks

HARARE - President Thabo Mbeki arrived in the Zimbabwean capital Harare yesterday in the latest bid to revive stalled power-sharing talks between the country's political rivals.

HARARE - President Thabo Mbeki arrived in the Zimbabwean capital Harare yesterday in the latest bid to revive stalled power-sharing talks between the country's political rivals.

Mbeki, who was met on arrival by President Robert Mugabe, is expected to be in Harare for "at least two days," according to a South African diplomat.

He was to hold talks with Mugabe, opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the leader of a small MDC offshoot, Arthur Mutambara, in an effort to end a deadlock which has delayed the formation of a new government.

Talks deadlocked last month when the MDC, the biggest party in parliament after elections in March, balked at a proposal that would see President Robert Mugabe retain control of the country's security ministries.

Mbeki was appointed by the Southern African Development Community in July to mediate in the dispute. It was unclear yesterday whether Mbeki would meet the party leaders together or separately.

While the opposition was upbeat about Mbeki's visit, the ruling Zanu-PF and government officials declined to comment.

"We welcome President Mbeki's visit. We expect him to play the simple but important role of deflating the current impasse in the negotiations," said the MDC's Nelson Chamisa.

"He should persuade Zanu-PF to abandon their meaningless hardline stance. The bottom line is the people of Zimbabwe are suffering and they need a 'pain-stop' to come out of these talks."

Mutambara's splinter group was also hopeful.

"If this meeting with Mbeki takes place it will be a good opportunity for the leaders of this country to chart a new path for a new Zimbabwe. We are excited," spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa said. - Sapa-AFP

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