17 Aug 2008

Zimbabwe deadlock dominates talks

8:45 am on 17 August 2008

Differences over Zimbabwe's stalled power-sharing deal have dominated the first day of a summit of southern African nations in Johannesburg.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai are at the meeting of the Southern African Development Community, which is being chaired by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Botswana boycotted the event in protest at Mr Mugabe's presence.

Opening the two-day summit, Mr Mbeki, who has been mediating the Zimbabwe talks, said he hoped Zimbabwe's rival leaders would reach a deal in Johannesburg.

Before the meeting, he held talks separately with Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and Arthur Mutambara, head of a breakaway MDC faction.

Sticking points in the power-sharing talks are reported to include:

the balance of power between Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai

the make-up of any coalition cabinet

control of Zimbabwe's security forces

the possibility of an amnesty over post-election violence.

Mr Mugabe was re-elected on 27 June - he was the only candidate. Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of the election in March.