Still no deal in sight in Zim

HARARE - Zimbabwe's political rivals appeared far from reaching a deal during talks yesterday, despite a proposal floated by President Thabo Mbeki, pictured, to unlock a power-sharing stalemate.

HARARE - Zimbabwe's political rivals appeared far from reaching a deal during talks yesterday, despite a proposal floated by President Thabo Mbeki, pictured, to unlock a power-sharing stalemate.

Both the ruling Zanu-PF of President Robert Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai said that agreement was not yet in sight, the day after Mbeki flew to Harare to kick-start the talks.

"We are not close to any deal yet. There is no deal to talk about at the moment," said an MDC official.

"Zanu-PF is not willing to move from the position they held when we last met three weeks ago."

A Zanu-PF official close to the negotiations said yesterday's talks were unlikely to result in a solution to the political crisis.

"We doubt if we will get anywhere today," the official said. "We don't know who the MDC-Tsvangirai have been consulting during the night. What we know for sure is they will come with a fresh set of demands."

During discussions in Harare on Monday, parties were given a proposal by Mbeki aimed at unlocking a power-sharing stalemate, a state daily reported yesterday.

The Herald newspaper reported that the "extensive and technical" document outlined executive powers and their distribution - a sticking point said to have stalled previous negotiations - and the structure of an inclusive government.

"The negotiators will study, debate and try to find common ground before resuming the talks," the newspaper said, citing an unnamed source.

Despite scepticism expressed by other officials, Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for the small MDC splinter led by Arthur Mutambara, was hopeful that agreement would be reached.

"We are optimistic," he said. "We believe the leaders of the three parties will put Zimbabwe ahead of their individual interests and work out a deal that will end the suffering of our people." - Sapa-AFP

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