Mbeki gets Zim parties talking

HARARE - Former South African president Thabo Mbeki began mediation talks between Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday to try to rescue a power-sharing pact.

HARARE - Former South African president Thabo Mbeki began mediation talks between Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday to try to rescue a power-sharing pact.

The deal is in danger of collapse over disagreements about cabinet posts. Tsvangirai threatened at the weekend to pull the MDC out of it after Mugabe allocated key ministries to his Zanu-PF party.

Negotiators for Zanu-PF and the MDC met briefly at a Harare hotel before the leaders arrived to meet Mbeki. Arthur Mutambara, who heads a splinter MDC faction, is also taking part in the talks.

Mutambara expressed frustration over the stalled deal.

"The fact that we are bickering over cabinet posts is a travesty of justice. Mugabe and Tsvangirai should shape up or ship out," he said.

Justice minister and Zanu-PF's chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa told the Herald that he hoped Mbeki would offer new ideas.

"As far as we are concerned the only contention is the ministry of finance," he said.

Mugabe also angered the MDC by allocating the ministries for defence, home affairs, and finance to his own party.

Yesterday Zimbabwe's parliament sat for the first time since it was officially opened by Mugabe in August amid jeers and boos from MDC members.

Sharp differences were evident in parliament, with Zanu-PF lawmakers praising Mugabe for agreeing to share power, while their MDC counterparts said they could walk away from the deal. - Reuters

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